Sunday, December 30, 2012


The Alston's holidays have been full of festivities!
First - no, your postman did not lose the mail this year... we did not send out Christmas cards. We always have tried to at least do a few in the past, but this year it was just not happening. At least you can all keep up with us online!
The most recent and exciting change was my hair makeover. Our good friend, Jared, really did a big change and I love it!
Jon and I had the most fun taking these before and after shots :) haha! I tried to look as terrible as possible in the first one, so I didn't even brush my hair, but it was so hard to keep a straight face! Really though, my hair was in need of a lot of help. I had major split ends and was so tired of the same old style. I'm actually very proud of myself for letting it grow as long as it did. I usually like to change my hair pretty often.
The best part about this cut is that it is PURPLE and choppy short underneath, which makes for fun styling options:
We've been able to see a lot of friends this holiday season too.
We made gingerbread houses with the fantastic Goffensons:

Tim and Ali's house was named the Bluth home, for obvious reasons...
The house that Jon and I decorated was over the top (of course)

Banana chip shingles adorned the roof with pretzel rod borders and candy cane porch rails

A cheerio and M&M path lined the way to the door over the lake while coconut snowflakes covered the green icing trees and chocolate drizzled popcorn plastered the walls.
looked like Hansel and Gretel's dream home to me!

That night we had Pizza with the Joyners to say goodbye to their grandmother who was heading back to Mexico before Christmas. She loooves baby Kate and I was excited to take this picture of Grandma Aby with Kate talking and laughing at her before she went home.
This is our little family on Christmas Sunday. It turns out we didn't get a lot of pictures on Christmas, but I did get plenty pictures of Katherine :) haha true parent...
Christmas Eve, Kate wore her gingerbread dress made by my coworker Lyn.
Here she is sitting still so that you can see her dress better
That night after work we had our annual MexItalian feast with the Joyner's. So delish! I love raviolis with refried beans, ceasar salad, tamales and spanish rice with garlic bread :)
Christmas morning we had breakfast, opened stockings and exchanged presents with Jon's family.
Kate got this awesome dog/teething toy from her cousin, AnnMarie! There is a big dog with texture toys attached and a smaller dog that sits in a front belly pouch (apparently this dog thinks it's a kangaroo) so we lovingly named it Doppleganger.
Christmas afternoon we exchanged presents with my family and had dinner and pie :)
Kate got this awesome mini teddy bear in her stocking which we christened "honey boo boo". She would not stop holding it!
Grandpa and Kate had some super fun playtime
and then fell asleep on the couch together after dinner.

Jon and I were very blessed this year with our families. It is so nice to be able to see them both on Christmas! The best gift I received on Christmas day this year was from Jon. He made me a hardcover wedding album! I'm always saying how I'd love to have one since we are always making them for the weddings we photograph and when I opened it up I knew IMMEDIATELY what it was and started crying. This was such a thoughtful gift, and it was a total surprise. I had no idea he had been working on this and I know how much time goes into it! I was absolutely thrilled :)
Christmas also brought a lot of crafting for us.
I worked on making us matching stockings now that we have Katherine. Hers was the only one that I 100% finished, but luckily Jon and I still have our stockings from childhood.
Jon helped me pick out the fabric. 2 stockings will have this red heel, toe and top band, while the other 2 will have the same fabric print, but in green as the accent.
The inside of the stockings are lined with holly berry fabric:
I was really excited to see how it looked hanging up by the fireplace! Once they are all done I will add our initials. I just haven't decided quite how yet.
We also designed these for my niece and nephew who homeschool. They are wooden pencil holders for their work desks. We were able to get the unfinished wood pencil holders from Bev's and then woodburned their first initial into it. To say that they LOVE Harry Potter is an understatement, so Garrett's pencil holder has a snitch burned in next to his G and Gretta's has a pygmy puff burned in next to her G. Jon stained and sealed them. I was so excited to see how they turned out!
My favorite thing that Jon handmade this year was this 12x12 photo album for our friends Tim and Ali. They went to Ireland last year and had yet to print out any of their pictures. As a little incentive, Jon handbound a photo album, which turned out awesome! I love watching him design and put together these books and making them so personal. He even made his own book cloth using supplies from Bev's. The Éire on the front was painted in gold leaf over the green cloth. The binding was done with wood doweling and hemp. It really was a work of art!
 We really did have a Merry Christmas and I'm so grateful for all the blessings that have come our way this year.
We wish you all a Happy New Year 2013 and will be sharing our new theme for the year on January 1st :) See you then!
Love, The Alston Family
Jon, Steph, Katherine & Margo

Monday, December 17, 2012

Holiday Spirit

November 24, 2012 - Searching for the Christmas tree at Little Bear Creek Tree Farm
(Left to right: Me, Kate, Jon, Mike, Chris, Beth, AnnMarie, Amanda, Meg & Dave)

December 7, 2012 - Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus for our ward Christmas Party
December 8, 2012 - Kate and Mom at an engagement session helping Jon test the lighting
December 9, 2012 - visiting Kate's Gorgeous Great Grandma Jeannie
December 13, 2012 - midnight showing of The Hobbit with Tim & Ali
(not pictured: Tim, and the other half of Ali's face)

December 15, 2012 - Breakfast date at Mimi's with my sisters, Michelle and Carrie

December 15, 2012 - Baby Kate in mom's front pack at a maternity session in the park

December 16, 2012 - Donning the most fantastic ugly sweater featuring Santa being pulled by a flock of Christmas flamingos... Thank you, EcoThrift!
 Best of all? Family :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

7 years

 Every year for our wedding anniversary, Jon and I go on a mini vacation together. This year, because Katherine is so small, we brought her with us!

We have been talking for years about going to Oregon, up to Astoria to visit the places where they filmed The Goonies. My Aunt and Uncle live in Portland, so we decided to make a whole big Oregon trip out of it :)

Our drive up was amazingly beautiful! Oregon has all the parts of Northern California that I love. Trees, trees, green, trees, rain and more trees!

Kate was perfect the entire car ride. She slept, I sat in the back and fed her with a bottle every few hours, and she would stare out the window babbling at the scenery. We think she likes trees too.

We were able to stay with my Aunt and Uncle which was perfect! We just crashed the first night and woke up first thing the next morning to visit the famous VooDoo Doughnut shop.

 My Aunt volunteered to watch Kate for the day, so she and my cousin, Claire had a blast with the baby while we waited in line for sugary deliciousness...

It was much smaller inside than I had expected, but totally funky and awesome!

We ended up with a dozen doughnuts that we picked out ourselves. My favorite was the VooDoo doll (pictured below). Behind it you will see the peach fritter, Captain my Captain, the butterfinger doughnut, the Tang doughnut and the fruit loop doughnut. ALL were delicious.

Jon's favorite was (of course) the maple bacon bar!

Supposedly the wait is normally over an hour long. Good thing we came on a rainy weekend! It was still packed, but we only had to wait about 10 minutes.

From there we trekked a few blocks to Powell's.

This bookstore is a full city block and 3 stories of rooms upon rooms of books. They sell new, used and out of print books. We spent at least a good 45 minutes drooling in their rare book room which was temperature controlled and included some books originally printed in the 1600's. (ahh!) I was almost too afraid to touch them. After 3 hours we had to make ourselves leave so that we could see other parts of Portland. I didn't even count the number of books we left with.

After Powell's we were hoping to eat lunch at a food cart, but they were closed for the weekend. Instead we stopped by the Keep Portland Weird sign:

And ate lunch at Sizzle Pie. They had quite the assortment of Vegan pizzas, which made me very very happy :)
After lunch and browsing through some thrift shops in downtown, we headed over to 23rd street where there are adorable boutiques and restaurants. Salt & Straw was recommended to us by my Aunt and Uncle, so we definitely had to get Jon some ice cream!

Their menu was full of amazingly weird flavors. Jon had the strawberry balsamic vinegar with black pepper. I had just a tiny taste. SO good! Jon also tried the honey lavendar and pear with blue cheese.

Although I didn't have any ice cream, I did get a pocket apple pie and some dark chocolate with sea salt. mmmmmmm

That night we went out for our official anniversary dinner.

Blue Hour in the Pearl District was absolutely FANTASTIC. They have a cheese menu that you order from before the appetizers. Jon was very excited about this. The atmosphere was unlike any restaurant I have ever been in before. They had lit tree branches covering the ceiling so it felt like eating in a park at night.

 After our fancy sorbet, we headed to Papa Haydn's on 23rd street for "real" dessert ;) It was just a totally different atmosphere and crowd of people. At 10:30 at night this place was PACKED and we waited about 15 minutes for a table. I didn't get a picture of my dessert, but I'm pretty sure it was the best thing I have ever eaten. Dark chocolate cake with chocolate ganache and real raspberries on top... I don't know what they put in this cake, but it was like a literal slice of heaven.

The next day we slept in and went to church with my cousins. Kate had a new outfit to wear (Thanks Deb!) But she looked a bit concerned about her face-to-bow ratio :) haha. So ridic. I love it.

 After church we visited Lynsi Barfuss and fam in Beaverton, met their grandma... and then hung out with my cousins for dinner and a little BYU TV. It was so nice to just have a relaxing family and friend day!

Monday we drove up to Astoria. Luckily we picked the day they were having a huge storm with 40mph winds and torrential rain. The freeway on the coast flooded and a semi tipped over on the bridge to the lighthouse, so needless to say it sort of limited our sightseeing options!

Our first stop (of course!) was the Goonie house:

We all got pictures in front of it, and then it really started getting rainy and windy. The house was a lot smaller in person than we expected. It's on this hill at the top of a gravely road. There is really no room for a lot of cars to be able to drive up, park and turn around, so they ask you to go up the hill on foot.
From there we went to the Astoria visitor's center where we found out that most places were closed due to power outages, or on back up generators. Awesome! We took our chances by going to the film museum (the old County Jail) where they filmed the Fratelli escape scene at the beginning of Goonies. It was open!
The jail inside was very small. It was a really working jail in town for a long time.
Jon in the cell where they filmed the hanging scene:
They even had Data's costume on display:
After a few fun mock movie scene reenactments we headed across the street to the Flavel House.
This gorgeous Queen Anne style Victorian was built by Captain Flavel way back in the day and is now a restored museum. Jon and I LOVE Victorian culture, so this was super fun to see. It reminded me a lot of the Winchester house in San Jose... but without all the weirdness :)

After a seafood lunch by the ocean we headed back to Portland and spent the evening walking around Pioneer Courthouse square and 23rd street.

Kate looking at the lights of downtown:

It was so much fun to see my aunt, uncle and cousins!

I used to hold Claire constantly when she was a baby. And now she holds my baby :)

The Hardy fam! Craig, Lynnette, Spencer and Claire.
(Camden and Nathan are both out on missions right now)

Kate was so wiggly she just wouldn't hold still for any pictures!

The Alston's

And then we headed home. It was adorable to see that after we had Kate buckled into her carseat she snuggled with Eeyore :) 
The drive home was rainy pretty much the whole way... all 10 hours back into Sacramento.
The nicest part was making up a story about clouds with Jon. We even got this one beautiful break of sun. My phone does not do it justice, but it was super rad.

As I thought would happen, we both fell in love with Oregon and would move there in a heartbeat. It was everything about Northern California that we love, plus some funk and a lot of Vegan food. Could not have been a better place to pick for vacation!