This is my first full holiday season with cookies. Last year, I decided not to take any orders so that I could give my full attention to a private family matter. Looking back it was really the best decision.

But now fast forward to this year, and things are nuts! I had no idea what to expect and thankfully I've had lots of help throughout the past few weeks. Especially from my wonderful mom. She is amazing. 

I've needed the extra help so that I can make lots of these funky Christmas tree cookies! They are part of the Very Merry Christmas cookie collection. And they just so happen to be my favorite cookie of the holiday season. 


But, I am happy to say that life isn't ALL about the cookies. Here's what happens between the blog posts and cookie orders...

Making time for family fun is super important. One afternoon, we met the Cat in the Hat at a WPSU event.

 

Everyone got free ice cream and a goodie bag. There were a ton of cool science experiments and activities for the kids. We got an up-close look at dinosaur bones - real and replica. Plus I found my dream car that day...a PINK Prius. Santa, if you're reading, I've been a really good girl!

   

Then we took a one-night vacation from the hectic life in Happy Valley. We drove all the way to the City of Brotherly Love - Philadelphia. 

Toph has wanted to see the band, The Frames, for quite some time, and they were finally touring through the US for their 20th anniversary.  We got to see them at the TLA (Theater of the Living Arts). We had my daughter and my mom with us. We all went out for a fun dinner and then checked into our hotel. Topher and I got everyone settled in and then we headed out for a night on the town.

I'm not sure I would have ever heard of The Frames if not for Topher. I often to refer to him as my personal DJ. He knows what I like and helps match me up with music that I can decoarate to, drive to, or mow the lawn to. It's pretty cool.

I had only heard the most popular Frames songs...the ones from the movie 'Once' (which I HIGHLY recommend). 


So I was excited to see the concert and hear a little more of what they do.

The Jack Clemmons Band was the opener. We found out afterward that Jack Clemmons' father is the sax player with Bruce Springsteen. Cool, huh? They were great. Did a lot of audience participation type songs. I would describe them as a good rock band with lots of emotion.  They really set the night off on the right note.


Then the Frames took the stage. Their music filled the entire room. I just couldn't get over the fullness of their sound. Do you know what I mean? It was one of those experiences when the music just permeates every cell in your body and soul. Totally cool band! I loved the violin player...the drummer was cool too. I always watch the drummer.

Amazing music. 

Toph thought it was amazing too. He was singing along and applauded so loudly for the band. I think I heard him yell 'Woo' a couple times too. It was so cute to see him so happy and thrilled. 

Here is a pic of lead singer Glen Hansard. He had the best, most expressive eyebrows I have ever seen. wow.


We stopped off for a piece of pie afterward at the South Street Diner and then tucked ourselves in for the evening.

Good thing we got a few hours of sleep because the next day we had plans to meet up with my cousins (they are so cute!!) at the Philadelphia Touch Museum. That place is AWESOME. I think all kids should have a chance to go. There was so much to do and see and TOUCH! It was playing and learning at it's best!


The museum was filled with tons of play areas. Like a real-life grocery store, a gigantic kitchen, a park, a shoe store...and so much more.

   

Oh, and a TV station. Here is our future producer working camera 5. She'll be on the Beaver Stadium Jumbotron crew in no time! I loved the hamster wheel. Hmmmmm. Sometimes the cookie biz feels a little like a hamster wheel ; )

   

Then there was a huge room with a carousel. What a fun surprise! We didn't expect that. It was the only thing that required extra tickets. Luckily enough, a stranger gave us two free tickets. Random acts of kindness are where it's at. We felt blessed.


When we finally got back home, we were so happy and SO very exhausted. My sweet little girl fell sound asleep in the cupcake 'house' during our bedtime routine. It was the sweetest thing I have ever seen. (by the way, that cupcake canopy is a great Christmas gift idea for a little girl. Topher and I made this for our daughter for her birthday. Click here  http://www.flourboxbakery.com/blogs/tidbits/1988042-make-your-own-cupcake-canopy to view our step by step instructions on how to make your own.)

It's getting bitter cold in Central PA. We have had freezing temps for a little while. I miss the playground and the outdoors. Now it is time for us to find fun inside. We built a huge pillow sliding board in our living room. This stayed up all day long and my little sweetie rolled and tumbled down the slide for a long time. Ahhhh, the things a 3-year-old can find so amusing!


I also took a break from cookies for the PSU vs. MSU football game. A loss for my dear Nittany Lions. My college girlfriends were in town for the weekend. We enjoyed a night on the town...sporting our sweats. You know you're alumni when you wear your sweatshirt out for drinks!


We officially started the Christmas season in our house. Our advent calendar is up and is loved. We hid a 'little girl treasure' in each door. It's a fun way to start the day! Plus it is a neat way to explain the concept of waiting for Jesus' birth. The anticipation of such a great event shown through a calendar. 


Plus, big news...my little girl finally got her first haircut! After 3 years, she definitely needed a little trim. And that's what she got. I love her long hair, so we just got things evened out. She was such a big girl!


Just last weekend, we went out with friends to the Hublersburg Inn for our friend Ken Hull's book signing. You can check out his facebook page for signing updates click here http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=63808791548. The book is great and we definitely enjoyed the food and drinks at the HUBE. The decorations in the dining room are worth the drive for any of you State College folk. Hey Ken, thanks for the bunny ears. You stinker!

Finally, our holiday season was enriched with an amazing opporunity to give away 75 FREE Christmas trees to families in Boalsburg. Our church - Centrechurch.org decided to bless our neighbors with 75 of the most beautiful trees I have ever seen! Trust me, these were grade A and gorgeous! I spoke with one single mom who was so delighted with her tree. She was chatting with her daughters about where to put it. This was their first year ever having a big, real tree. 


So that's what we've been up to. Sometimes I say 'no' to orders. I always feel bad. But, good balance in my life between cookies and family and church and friends will help me to be the best person and cookie maker I can be.

I hope you're having a very blessed holiday season! Check back on the blog this Sunday for a big update on all the custom orders I've been working on... including a super adorable set of custom Christmas ornaments!

Have a sweet holiday,

Anne