December 30, 2009

Christmas Memories '09

I'm really behind. Christmas was almost a week ago and I'm just now sorting through our pictures. But, it's a little more fun taking pictures around here. Santa brought us a great new camera!



I think our family may have started to feel like they couldn't turn around without a lens in their face!

Before we left town, we decorated the house and put gifts under the tree. We've never been in our own house on Christmas day to enjoy it, but it's definitely worth all the work.








On Christmas Eve we packed the car and headed to Missouri. It was great to wake up to a white Christmas. It's been a few years since we've had one!




We opened lots of fun presents and spent the day playing games with our family.




I got the final season of Newlyweds. I watch old episodes on all of our road trips. I think there's a small part of me still holding out hope that they will get back together!



My Dad - he's probably thinking, "Tara - get that camera out of my face!"



We played Bingo...




We posed for family pictures.




We celebrated the holiday with two people we never thought we would see back together...







We held lots of babies!







And we wrapped up our holiday at home where my sister made her famous homemade chicken noodle soup.







Todd and I had a great time with our families. I always get a little sad when we leave. I had a tough time dropping my sister off at the airport this morning. She has had a rough year. I'm praying for a new start in 2010 for her. If you think about it, I'm sure she would appreciate your prayers for her too.

***
I've officially had this blog for a year now. In fact, this is my 100th post. As I look back, I see God's hand on every part of our lives and am thankful for this little blog...it reminds me of my blessings and those I need to continue to pray for. I'm excited to see what He has in store for the New Year.

See you in 2010!

December 24, 2009

His Gift to You

The Birth of Jesus...


At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, his fiancée, who was now obviously pregnant.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.


Wishing you a very Merry Christmas...

Love,
The Stepps

December 20, 2009

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

This year Todd and I decided to host our first Ugly Christmas Sweater Party. You never know how parties like that will turn out. Will everyone dress up? Will they think it's silly? Will they embarrass themselves by showing up at our house looking like they just stepped out of the '80s?

Oh yes!

We had the best time and now know our friends are up for anything. And I mean anything!

What's a party without food? I think we all walked away stuffed.



But enough about the food. Let's get to the attire!

I hate to single anyone out, but our friends Jason and Renee looked incredible. We've learned our lesson: don't go up against these two in any costume contest! Hilarious.




The whole gang. I mean, how good do we look?



Now just the girls...



I think it's safe to say the party was a success. Can't wait for next year!

December 17, 2009

The Nutcracker

Last weekend I went to my first ballet. After experiencing Broadway during my trip to NYC, I was really looking forward to seeing The Nutcracker in Nashville. The night was perfect. The girls and I kicked things off at Bricktops for dinner, getting so caught up in the food and conversation that we almost missed the ballet. We showed up with exactly one minute to spare. Thank goodness for valet!
-


-
The Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC)
-







-
Jackson Hall at TPAC (photos courtesy of tpac.org)
-






































































I am beyond blessed to have these girls in my life. They are some of the best Christmas gifts I could ever receive. Plus they all like to do girly things (like see the ballet) that I would never be able to get Todd to do, unless the ballet had a football theme. Even then it might be impossible! But that's what girlfriends are for. So thankful for them!

December 13, 2009

Call Me Barefoot Contessa Junior

Okay, that might be pushing it just a bit, but my good friend Rox and I spent the day cooking and our entree came from the wonderful Ina Garten (aka Barefoot Contessa for you non-Food Network junkies).

Roxanne and I work together. She's one of the marketing directors for the label and keeps me in line. She also loves to cook so we had planned for weeks to get together to try some new recipes. Rox showed up with groceries in hand and we got busy in the kitchen.

Rox had never been to my house, so I wanted to make it extra cozy and inviting. What's cozier than a fire going?


I love having company over this time of year. I keep the Christmas lights on all day.


We were going to try one of Julia Child's recipes, but it involved setting wine on fire. I'm sure it would have been fabulous, but since I've never cooked with fire, I was a little afraid of my cabinets going up in flames. Or worse.

Instead we made a dish I watched Ina make last weekend: Chicken with Goat Cheese and Sun Dried Tomatoes. For sides we chose Honey Glazed Carrots and roasted asparagus. For dessert we made the yummiest new recipe. I don't remember the name of it, but it was basically crispy phyllo treats topped with a citrus custard, raspberries and pistachios. While the custard chilled we watched Julie & Julia. Such a great movie! I don't typically like to watch movies twice and I had seen J&J this summer, but it's so good that I could watch it over and over.


Now I'm going to try to clean the house a bit before Todd gets home from the football game and maybe fit in a workout. With our busy schedules, I have to pack as much in a day as I can.

Hope you had a great weekend!

December 9, 2009

I'm Back...Sort Of

Can anyone tell me where November went? It has been a little crazy in the Stepp house. I've been meaning to blog, to record the things that have happened in our lives, (because regardless of if anyone reads this silly blog, I like to scroll through old posts to relive past memories), but life got in the way. I know I'm not the only one feeling this way. Fall came and went and I didn't even realize it was visiting. Here's to hoping things slow down soon!

Since the last time I've "really" written, I visited California.



One of the largest radio stations/networks I work with is in Sacramento, so I spent the day there meeting with some of the best promotions directors in Christian music. The next day I took a quick flight down to LA where Tenth Avenue North was performing. I only got a glimpse of the ocean, but it was great to see the sun (and palm trees), especially since I would be returning to a cold, rainy day in Nashville.

Right before I left, Todd worked very hard to put our Christmas lights up. Unfortunately he's a bit afraid of heights, so he asked our good friend Jeff to help.



Look at him. He's not so sure about the "climbing on the roof" business. He decides to supervise instead. (Sorry about the glare - it was sunny and our camera is awful)



We're so thankful for Jeff for getting our house ready for the holidays! Unfortunately we had some technical difficulties and couldn't get the power outlet situation figured out, so I left for California before I could see our home all aglow. My sweet husband worked hard while I was gone and sent me this picture via text:




I love pulling into our driveway and seeing the Christmas lights lit up. I wish we could keep them on all year!

The same week I got home from my 3-day trip to California, the greatest thing happened. One of my best friends got engaged!! Suz is now officially the soon-to-be Mrs. Matt Manes. I'm so happy for her I could burst!























 

In other news, the Pioneer Woman visited Nashville last night. My good friend Renee and I went to her book signing in hopes of meeting Ree herself. But when we arrived we found out we were in the last group and it would be several hours before we made our way to her table. I've never been the "super-fan" type. I think PW is wonderful, but we weren't about to wait in line all night. Thankfully we met the sweetest ladies who just happened to be first in line. They graciously took our books to have them signed. The lady in the black & white shirt was one of the ladies who helped us out. PW might just be signing my book in the picture!


I'd say PW has some fans in Nashville. It was a bummer to not get to meet her, but it was still a fun girls' night out.







I'm home for awhile, but not less busy. Now we're gearing up for crazy work schedules, Christmas parties and another trip back to Missouri. I don't think you will hear the words "I'm bored" come out of my mouth for a very long time.

December 4, 2009

Busy Busy!

I have definitely neglected my blog these past few weeks. I was out of town for Thanksgiving, then headed straight to California. I'm back, but I'm swamped at work. That's life, right? Honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way.

I just received an early Christmas present. I've started having my packages sent to my office. It adds a little more excitement to the day. Just a few minutes ago I was handed this:


It's a cell phone shot, so it's not the clearest picture I've ever taken, but I'm excited to dive into this book. Even more excited to meet the PW herself next week at her book signing! I'm thinking about whipping up a PW dish this weekend. Chicken Parmigiana anyone?

I'll be back soon!