In which there are Christmas traditions

We’re such a new little family (even though in about two weeks we’ll mark our 10 year dating anniversary), that we’re still establishing Christmas traditions. One of my favorites so far is where on Christmas Eve we exchange ornaments that are indicative of the year’s adventures:

Step one for ornament exchange: Pick out tree. We almost didn't get a live tree this year with finals and end of the year stuff cramping up my scheduled, but Jeff insisted and I'm so glad we did.

Step one for ornament exchange: Pick out tree. We almost didn’t get a live tree this year with finals and end of the year stuff cramping up my scheduled, but Jeff insisted and I’m so glad we did. The smell has been heavenly.

Step two: Tie to the Jeep. (Step two and a half: Remember that you left most of the bungee cords in your bin in storage and pray that the two you brought will do the trick).

Step two: Tie tree to the top of the loyal Jeep. (Step two and a half: Remember that you left most of the bungee cords in your bin in storage and pray that the two you brought will do the trick. Consult with stranger parked next to you and get his vote of confidence).

Step three: Trim the tree while eating traditional Christmas nachos (we used to makes these all the time when Jeff was in law school and we saw each other on the weekends. Plus the red and green make them quite festive). Another tradition: Listening to the web broadcast of This American Life's episode with David Sedaris's Santaland Diaries.

Step three: Trim the tree while eating traditional Christmas nachos (we used to makes these all the time when Jeff was in law school and we saw each other on the weekends. Plus the red and green make them quite festive). Another tradition: Listening to the web broadcast of the This American Life’s episode with David Sedaris’s Santaland Diaries.

Last year Jeff gave me this handcrafted tin crab from when we went crabbing with our dear friends Bri and Ian up in the San Juans.

Last year Jeff gave me this handcrafted tin crab from when we went crabbing with our dear friends Bri and Ian up in the San Juans.

It's nice to be reminded of the fun trip!

It’s nice to be reminded of the fun trip!

My ornament last year for Jeff.

My ornament last year for Jeff.

Merry First Christmas :) With a picture of our first dance at the wedding.

Merry First Christmas 馃檪 With a picture of our first dance at the wedding.

This year, to commemorate our first full year in the Pacific Northwest Jeff gave me a hand blown blue and green glass raindrop ornament from a local Seattle artist. This is one of the biggest glass blowing regions of the world and some ash from Mount St. Helens is included in this piece.

This year, to commemorate our first full year in the Pacific Northwest Jeff gave me a hand blown blue and green glass raindrop ornament from a local Seattle artist. This is one of the biggest glass blowing regions of the world and some ash from Mount St. Helens is included in this piece.

I bought this glass piece and etched an outline of the Burning Man symbol on it with the year to commemorate our trip this summer.

I bought this glass piece and etched an outline of the Burning Man symbol on it with the year to commemorate our trip this summer.

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This year some friends introduced us to a street called Candy Cane Lane where all the houses deck out in great Christmas lights. (Sorry for the blurriness of the pictures)

This year some friends introduced us to a street called Candy Cane Lane where all the houses get together and agree to deck themselves out in great Christmas lights. (Sorry for the blurriness of the pictures: night + iPhone camera = not great, but you get the idea)

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We Try to watch 12 Christmas movies every year. So far we've made it through Christmas Vacation, It's a Wonderful Life, Elf, Home Alone, White Christmas and currently as I write, A Christmas Story.

We try to watch 12 Christmas movies every year. So far we’ve made it through Christmas Vacation, It’s a Wonderful Life, Elf, Home Alone, White Christmas and currently as I write, A Christmas Story, so halfway there. As we ate traditional barbecue pork and watched White Christmas last night, the scenes with the troops celebrating Christmas in a war zone 聽overseas hit particularly close to home.聽

My little brother Graham is currently serving in Afghanistan (he's the second from the right). Here's hoping there's a Christmas miracle and they can all come home soon.

My little brother Graham is currently serving in Afghanistan (he’s the second from the right with the present on his gun). Here’s hoping there’s a Christmas miracle that they can all come home soon.

It's no secret that I love Christmas cards. I remember stuffing envelops as a kid and sitting for what seemed like ages for the perfect shot where all three of us were looking at the camera. It was the '90s so there was a lot of hairspray involved.  This wall has sent us love from Rachie, the Kirks, the Plues, the Pecks (Virginia), the Pecks (Memphis), the Watsons, the Smiths, the Seals, the Lanes, the Reeses and the Fowlers.

It’s no secret that one of my favorite traditions is sending and receiving Christmas cards. I remember stuffing envelops as a kid and sitting for what seemed like ages for the perfect shot where all three of us were looking at the camera. It was the ’90s so there was a lot of hairspray involved.
This wall has sent us love from Rachie, the Kirks, the Duffs, the Pecks (Virginia), the Pecks (Memphis), the Watsons, the Smiths, the Seals, the Lanes, the Reeses and the Fowlers.

And love from the Balestrinos, Baileys, Fitzpatricks, Moores, Friars, Russos, Plues and Aunt Doris.

And love from the Balestrinos, Baileys, Fitzpatricks, Moores, Friars, Russos, Plues and Aunt Doris.

We may not have a real fireplace, but the Yule Log movie on Netflix made a nice replacement.

We may not have a real fireplace, but the Yule Log movie on Netflix made a nice replacement.

Though it’s probably more applicable to Thanksgiving than to Christmas, I’ve had the carol聽For the Beauty of the Earth聽perpetually stuck in my head this season:

For the beauty of the earth
For the glory of the skies
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.聽

We’re so thankful for such a great year, for such wonderful friends and family (near and far) and for the promise of a brand new year. From us to you: Merriest Christmas!

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In which there are Christmas Cards

Jeff is always amused by how much I love civic things. I’ve never been called, but I’d probably enjoy jury duty. I love voting (especially when you get to go to a booth, not the mail in stuff they have here in Washington. More convenient, sure, but you lose that feeling of purpose and pride after you’ve completed your small role in the democratic process. I know it’s a flawed system sometimes, but I’m for the ballot box over guns anytime).

Checking the mail is one of my favorite parts of the day, especially now that holiday cards are rolling in. Last year was our first married Christmas, so we were able to use a nice professional wedding photo which made things easy. But how do you top that without going out to get nice pictures taken? It doesn’t help that all the sample cards on shutterfly.com, tinyprints.com, etc have such nice photogenic families that my few good photos of Jeff and I didn’t quite fit their formats. So this year, I made our own:

I started off by designing the card, front and back separately in Pages (the Mac equivalent of MS Word).

I started off by designing the card, front and back separately in Pages (the Mac equivalent of MS Word).

Then I had Kinko's print the front on matte photo paper and the backs onto the heaviest card stock they had.

Then I had Kinko’s print the front on matte photo paper and the backs onto the heaviest card stock they had.

Lots of cutting.

Some cutting.

And more cutting

And more cutting

Printing two cards to one piece of paper saved a ton of money. Each card would eventually be 5x8, which is larger than the postcard standard of 4x6 so I didn't get the reduced postage. Oh well.

Printing two cards to one piece of paper saved a ton of money. Each card would eventually be 5×8, which is larger than the postcard standard of 4×6 so I didn’t get the reduced postage. Oh well.

Then I transported myself back to kindergarten and rubber cemented the fronts and backs together.

Then I transported myself back to kindergarten and rubber cemented the fronts and backs together.

Then I had to handwrite out address on all of them because I forgot to include that.. whoops. I also trimmed up the edges once more to make them flush.

Then I had to handwrite our address on all of them because I forgot to include that.. whoops. I also trimmed up the edges once more to make them flush.

And voila! Ready to send at the post office.

And voila! Ready to send at the post office. All this cost about a third of what it did to order the same amount of cards for my mom (even with the cyber Monday discounts).

Some from us up here in Seattle, Merry Christmas! 聽

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Fun fact: My dear mother saw Three Dog Night at a company event back in the 80’s. I’ve always loved their Joy to the World song and thought it should be included along with all the other Christmas favorites. And today is her birthday – Happy Birthday to the most lovely and wonderful mom in the entire world! I love you!

At the Bele Chere festival in Asheville, NC - 2011

At the Bele Chere festival in Asheville, NC – 2011

In which we wish you a Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone! We’re celebrating by:

Hoping it’s a Silent Night:


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Making some delicious Christmas Eve lamb inspired by this recipe

(What do you mean, you don’t eat no meat?聽…That’s okay, that’s okay. I make lamb.)聽:

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And basking in the glow of all the love sent to us from across the US:

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Love to the Baileys, Plueses, Symon & Ashley, Watsons, the new Fitzpatricks, Reeses, Moores, and Duffs!

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Love to the Pecks, Kirks, Nichols, Vances, Pecks, Finches, Connie, the new Banachowskis, Lanes, the new Balestrinos, Mirs, and the Grohals

So love from the Sarvases on our first Christmas! We hope you and yours have a very merry one!

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Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love Divine,
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and Angels gave the sign.
Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

In which we pop some bubbly

Happy December everyone! Welcome to the month of many of our family birthdays, finals, and Christmas! Time to reflect on what an incredible year 2012 was for us and look forward to what 2013 has in store!

We ushered in this month of joy and celebration with a rainy Saturday night at home, catching up on DVR’d shows, designing our first married Christmas cards and lolling about. Perfection 馃檪 To top it off we took the words of Hester Browne literally:

“You should always keep a bottle of champagne in the fridge for special occasions. Sometimes the special occasion is that you’ve got a bottle of champagne in the fridge.”

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