christmas fun

at the barnes household we have quite a few christmas traditions. the big train open house, christmas eve pajamas, lisa's bundt cake, my favorite birthday dessert, santa pictures, and so on.

i realized this year that we have another tradition... one that isn't as obvious or necessarily festive. in my family, we love giving presents. we love searching for just the right thing, keeping it a total secret from the person, and trying to mislead him or her with obscure hints. i'm sure this is common in other households, but i think our favorite part of the whole present-giving thing is what we do best: wrapping.

not just wrapping. if any of you know me well, i am the worst wrapper of all time. what we love are the tricks, the scavenger hunts, the silly notes, and the prank gifts. i remember one year mitchell wrapped up a rock for tanner... then gave tanner his real present after he opened the rock. or how about this christmas when my dad wrapped a HUUUUUGE box with a little tiny note in the bottom telling tanner to go to the garage to find his longboard.

it's about the name-labeling.
(we call tanner RENNAT because it's his name backwards)

this next one is my personal favorite.
mitchell and tanner had a medium-sized box for me and scotty. i opened it to find another box. and inside that box was another box. and another box. and another and another and another. you get the point. then finally i came to a box the size of my fist to find this:
a bike bell? with a note that says "what could that go to? go to the garage to look at your NEW ride!!!!"
scotty and i didn't know what to think. a bike? a scooter? a motorized scooter?!
we run to the garage.
on the van's windshield, we find this:
JUST KIDDING! a gift card to olive garden.

it's things like these that make me love my crazy family more than i already to.
time to start planning the pranks for next year!


a christmas treat

to compliment my last post, let me show you (and teach you how to make) one of my favorite and easiest culinary masterpieces.

to start: two packs of oreos.
(more like 1.5 if you and your husband have horrible self control)
mash em.
stir in 2 packs of cream cheese.
roll into little balls.
dip in melted chocolate.
sprinkle christmas sprinkles on top.
they are highly addicting, pleasing to the eye, and insanely delicious.

what more could you ask for?

shopping spree

dear blog,
last month i had one of the best nights of my life.
it was like one of those too-good-to-be-real scenes from a movie.
scotty and i gathered up all of our williams-sonoma gift cards and went on a shopping spree.

i literally walked around the store and pointed at things i wanted, and scotty took them to the register. at one point i looked around and thought "okay... i still have gift card money... but there is nothing else i want/need." hahaha. it was great. we were so blessed to receive so many cards from family and friends. our kitchen was seriously lacking.

over $500 worth of merchandise later, i walked out of the store with the biggest grin on my face. i then died a little inside because i just had the best shopping experience ever, and i realized that i probably won't have that luxury again for a very, very, very long time.
welcome to poor newly wed life.

expect great things to come from my kitchen.
i am now equipped with every tool needed to create culinary masterpieces.
thank you for your donations!


marxy mexico

for our honeymoon we went on a 7 day cruise around eastern mexico/western bahamas...
it was a BLAST!
we had so much fun! it was hands down, the best week ever.
and coming from the most hectic, exciting, and the craziest week of my life... the honeymoon was exactly what i needed haha. pure relaxation. i quit the wedding diet and ate as much as i wanted to. i laid out. i slept. and most of all i spent quality time with my new husband!!

we had so much fun spending carefree alone time together. we liked to go on the top deck and watch movies at night. on the second night we were just sitting there... watching forest gump... and this couple sat down by us. i knew they were lds, so i pulled a creeper move and started talking to them haha.

it turns out, they got married on the same day as us! we were all honeymooners. we became good friends with them and we hung out every day together! we love nick and emily!

especially because this meant we had someone to trade taking pictures with :)

and nick happened to serve his mission in southern texas (?) so he spoke fluent spanish.
i was impressed with how well scotty could communicate with the mexicans with his portuguese knowledge! he understood almost everything they said. he haggled these hats down from $25 to $5 haha.
check out this quality picture the hat dealer took:
the beach was beautiful.

the third day, we went on a little excursion to CHICHEN ITZA!
so cool.
we loved looking at all of the ruins and trying to make nephite/lamanite connections haha!

we love our friends!

our boat. the next day we went to cozumel.

we shopped around a little & we finally got to swim in the ocean!
i got a massage on the beach and a much-needed tan.

and then at night we would cuddle up on the top deck with our ice cream cones and platefuls of pizza and watch movies. the four of us took turns getting up to get more food haha.

it was so relaxing and so much fun!
we loved cruising but by the end we were ready to head over to utah to start our new married life together. real life, not fake cruise life.
i had so much fun with my cute husband... he is the best!
hopefully there will be a round 2 sometime in the near future :)

moving on.

i have to tell you something...

i can't blog about my wedding.
i'm sorry.
i just can't!!!

and i have so many other things i want to blog about but i haven't been able to because of my ocd-like need for chronology. first things first.

i have drafts and drafts of wedding blogs saved and deleted... but nothing is good enough.
words can't describe how perfectly happy that day was or how sacred and special it was.

i feel stupid because every time someone asks me about it. i say "it was perfect." or "everything went perfectly." or "the whole day was just perfect!" i've spent the past few weeks searching my vocabulary for any word other than "perfect" that i can use in a blog post to talk about my wedding... but i can't.

i haven't even finished writing in my journal about it because it's so difficult to describe. (and for those of you who know me, i am an avid journal writer.)

so here we go:

my hair was perfect | scotty's outfit was perfect | the weather was perfect

the cake was perfect | the cookies were perfect
the whole reception was perfect

the drop ceiling was perfect | the tablecloths were perfect

my dress was perfect | the flowers were perfect | my shoes were perfect

see the problem?
the whole day was just too good for words.

so now you have two options:
1. excuse my sad excuse for a wedding post and move on


shout out.

oh gosh.
i know you're all just dying of suspense regarding my wedding post...
i promise it's coming.
in the meantime... i wanted to make sure that you know just how much i love my family.

ALL of my family.

and how amazing it was for all of them to be with me and scotty on our special day- regardless of flat tires, tight budgets, work schedules, sick children, evil teachers, school & exams, long boring drives, and sport games.

I was lucky enough to have all grandparents in attendance!
I sure love them.
grandma and grandpa westra make me laugh all the time, and gram b is the sweetest thing.
i adore my grandparents. i hope i can be as cute and funny as they are when i'm their ages.

THEN, get ready for this: every single one of my parent's siblings were able to come from all of their various locations. wyoming, chicago, utah, washington, california, texas, and all over!

it was the first time my dad and his five sisters have been together since like 1997 or something! they are all so fun. i adore each one of them! annette and barbara are so sweet and fun to be around, i see them the least because they are the farthest away! I miss them! cathi is the best person to play games (and make inappropriate jokes) with, debbie is freaking hilarious and always makes me crack up laughing every time i see her, and edie is my own personal support team and counselor. i love all five of them!

all 6 of my mom's siblings were there too! and don't worry, i love them just as much as the barnes sisters :) i love everything westra. i love all of my aunts and uncles. they all have the same laugh, the same nose issues, the same stupid jokes and hilarious stories, and i miss them when i am away from them!

all of the aunts were especially helpful. tying ribbons on picture frames, cutting and serving the cake, monitoring the cookies at the reception, and all kinds of jobs!

and most of the time, with aunts and uncles come COUSINS and COUSINS!
i love these little people more than anything

and i'm glad that my two dearest cousins came:
angela had some teacher drama that week and was docked 5% of her overall grade in a class for missing on my wedding day! STUPID! i'm so glad that she still came, it wouldn't have been the same without my "big sis!"

and kelsie crandall!! we're not exactly cousins... maybe second cousins. but i call her my cousin regardless. it's always a special treat when i get to spend time with kelsie, ever since my family moved to vegas we don't see her as often! i miss the days when we both lived in washington! she is so funny. we like to act stupid together, even though she looks like a rock star in this picture

christopher and mauri came too!! it was great seeing them. missed craig and the boys, but hopefully we will see them soon!
funny story: by some freak accident, my uncle dave and his wife rebekah ended up staying in the same hotel as us that weekend haha!! so we had continental breakfast with them. i know you're not supposed to communicate with the outside world for the whole week after you get married... but i secretly loved seeing them.

we really enjoy their company!

and last but SO not least,
my family family.
aka, the five of us.
dad mom ashley mitchell tanner.

let me just tell you that when i see this picture (whether it be on facebook, my phone, mom's blog, etc.) i just have to scan over it really fast or else i tear up a little. i can't believe i'm saying this but.... i love my brothers. i really do. i always have! but i do even more so now that i'm married. i just love seeing them and knowing about their lives and hearing them talk about middle school or high school. i can't wait to see what great things they accomplish as they get older!

and my parents.
oh no, this blog post is about to get 10 pages longer.
haha just kidding- because words cannot express the gratitude, admiration, and complete adoration i have for my parents.

they are the sole reason that my wedding day turned out as beautifully and perfectly as it did. they made everything happen! they helped me in every single decision, stood by me through my bridezilla phases, and agreed to almost all of my ridiculous requests. i can't tell you how many "wedding meetings" we had, how many late nights we spent debating things, or how many facetimes took place to pull all of this together. but what i can tell you is that my parents are absolutely amazing, and i will forever be thankful for the help and support that they gave me. it was so fun to plan a wedding with them- my dad was more enthusiastic than my mom and i combined! :) it was just the three of us, always searching for new ideas and brainstorming and surfing pinterest for hours. i appreciate my mom and dad so much... i really can't imagine life without them. so let's just hope my mom doesn't get sick of me calling her every night for recipes or kitchen advice :)

s0 to my beautiful parents, my handsome brothers, my adorable cousins, and all of my wonderful extended family (aunts, uncles, grandparents) who were able to come to the wedding:
i am the luckiest girl alive.