Archive for the ‘christmas’ Category

the fourteenth day of christmas

Friday, January 8th, 2016

tree

i’d venture there is little more depressing in life than the mass amount of dying christmas trees on the curbs of my neighborhood following the holidays. i saw one yesterday down the street from me that still had all of its lights on it, the entire once-glowing showpiece in a pile waiting for the garbage truck.

i know that cut christmas trees can’t last forever. and i know that leaving our christmas trees up past a certain acceptable date (although i’m not sure what this date is? mine is still up.) borders on crazy-neighbor territory. i know all this. but it seems to me sometimes the way we cast off our trees, and christmas altogether, as soon as we can following december 25th in preparation for the next thing sort of means we missed the whole point. i’m not saying we should all sit around in our pajamas every day and watch home alone or even that we should leave the decorations up. i’m just saying that i wish the parts of christmas that are really good: connecting with loved ones without distraction, thoughtfulness, slowness, rest, and reverence should seep into our lives beyond december 26th instead of running full speed ahead into what’s next. the tree might end up on the curb, but the rest of it doesn’t have to.

i realize this post is coming after the new year, but what can i say? i’ve been milking christmas for all it’s worth over here.

on another note, when i was growing up, my best friend and i called each other every christmas morning to discuss what we opened under the tree. in a way, my toys were her toys and vice-versa, so it was really a win-win situation. since then, i always love to hear what my friends – and really anyone – received for christmas. even as an adult. it’s fun. i know christmas is absolutely not about the gifts, but they’re still a good part of it. so in that vein, here are a few fun ones i received this year…

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  1. s’well bottle: this baby keeps your drink cold for 24 hours or hot for 12. plus, it’s just so snazzy. i’m staying super hydrated and it doesn’t sweat, so it’s great for using on the go.
  2. whitney english day designer: i’m abandoning my google calendar in favor of the real deal. i’m super particular about how i map my day and this planner checks all the boxes – hour by hour schedule, plus an extensive daily “to do” section. bonuses include daily gratitude, meal planning, budget planning, goal tracking, etc. i’m obsessed.
  3. old navy hi-lo turtleneck sweater: #tallgirlprobs include slouchy sweaters that aren’t actually so slouchy. slouchy sweaters are all i want to wear in the winter, so thankfully old navy has a nice tall sweater selection. this one is perfect. i can’t stop wearing it.
  4. lara casey powersheets: i can’t wait to write more about how much influence lara casey has had on my goals for 2016. reading her make it happen book (which i also received) has redirected and refocused me in so many ways. i am thankful for her and these amazing guided goal-setting sheets designed to help you make what matters happen.
  5. muro jewelry earrings: these studs are the most meaningful gift i received – my dad picked them out for me at our local vintage charlotte market. i’m so overwhelmed by his thoughtfulness and willingness to shop out of his comfort zone that i’m tearing up just writing this.
  6. lancaster paris bucket bag: the surprise of the year right here. was not expecting this one and i am in. love. my parents are really good at making christmas special.

so, happy 2016. i’m excited about the new year, i really am. despite my unwillingness to take down my christmas tree. except mine never actually goes out on the curb. an artificial beauty, she was there only once when my neighbor tried to throw her away. but i rescued her and she lives with me now. all the way through valentine’s day. not really. but also maybe.

image by geof kern via anachoretique

christmas home tour

Thursday, December 24th, 2015

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i always love my tiny apartment (at least when it’s clean and i’m not complaining about the lack of closet space) and i’m really excited for some fun redecoration plans i have for the new year. but, it’s safe to say that i never love my apartment as much as i do at christmas time. so today, from me to you, here are a few snaps of my own home this christmas. i’ve had the most fun decorating this year and really worked to simplify my decor and de-clutter a bit (the struggle is real in a tiny apartment). the result has made me very happy and i’ve enjoyed these decorations probably more than any other year thus far.

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i went a little crazy with the evergreen boughs, which i actually got for free from lowes when then cut them off the bases of their real trees (most hardware stores and tree farms will give you their cuttings for free if you ask). it looks pretty adorning the mantel and a little out of control on the mirror (i’m not mad about it though), but making those garlands from crude tree trimmings was messy and so very sappy/sticky. i’m surprised i didn’t ruin my carpet and in the future, projects like that will be done outside. i also had a lot of fun collecting all the brass candlesticks, found at local yard sales and thrift stores. none of them cost more than $3 and they’re nice to have to rotate into decor year-round because brass is pretty classic and candlesticks are nice for entertaining. i’m particularly smitten with the brass sconces i added above the fireplace, which will stay year-round from here on out.

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so there you have it – merry christmas from my tiny little home to yours! i pray that the hope and joy of Christ’s coming will be present in your homes and hearts over the next few days. i am overwhelmed with the glorious gift of His coming in our broken world.

christmas is for cookies

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

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this past weekend, my mom and sister-in-law and i hosted a little cookie exchange party for some of our closest friends. (part of our invite above, ordered from wisemonkey paperie on etsy). if you don’t already know this, cookie exchanges are really fantastic because you make one kind of cookie and then you leave with one million different cookies. it’s like magic. delicious magic. we also had a hot chocolate bar, a festive photo booth, and we watched the panthers win number 14 because when you live in charlotte in 2015 that’s what you do on sundays (alternate reason: when your quarterback looks like cam newton that’s what you do on sundays).

grace, my sis-in-law, is always an incredible encourager of my creative endeavors and gave me free rein in her house for decorations. the good news is, her dining room is already beautiful, so there wasn’t much to be done. i’m completely obsessed with eucalyptus at the moment, so i used it (from trader joe’s) and some greenery i cut from a bush in my yard to adorn the mantel and the center of the cookie table. these snaps were taken before most of the guests arrived, so the full cookie effect cannot be appreciated, but alas.

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i don’t ever decorate with red in my own home (more on that to come tomorrow!), so it was really fun to pull it into the decor here. the brass reindeer are one of my favorite decorations for christmas and i’m so happy i snagged them a couple of years ago at a yard sale.

now, on to the cookies. see those gorgeous gingerbread ones? my mom made them and she does every year. they’re my favorite. personally, i opted for a simpler less labor-intensive recipe, one i got from a cookie exchange at work last year. they’re simple, delicious (super citrusy – always my personal preference), and don’t require baking. this is awesome because it’s been so ridiculously warm in north carolina, and turning on my oven generally means i then need to turn on my air conditioning. in december. which is terrible. anyway. i modified the original recipe a bit because directions are hard and that’s what i always do, but they turned out well using the proportions below. you can also add coconut, if you’re into that. christmas is for cookies, so enjoy!

orange refrigerator balls
(pictured to the right of the gingerbread in the photos above)

1 box of vanilla wafers, crushed (i used the blender to grind them up)
1 cup of pecans, chopped (used the blender here too)
3/4 cup of orange juice concentrate
1/2 cup of butter, melted
1 pound of powered sugar (this worked out to about 3.5 cups but it’s hard to mess this one up)

mix all ingredients. form into one-inch balls. roll in powered sugar and refrigerate until firm. eat all of the cookies.

 

the great christmas exchange

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

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i promise this is my final post where i talk about christmas and/or complain about the fact that it’s over. my christmas decorations are still glowing in my living room as a write this and drink champagne on a random monday night, but that’s beside the point. taking them down is one of my least favorite things, so i’ll enjoy these final days that they fill my house with glowy, glittery happiness. anyway, blog exchanges are super fun. this is the third in which i’ve participated, but the great christmas exchange 2013 has most certainly been my favorite. sponsored by oak + oats and elah tree blogs, my favorite part of this exchange was that none of the exchanging was reciprocated. in that, i sent a package to meg, but i got a package from jenna. it was a fabulous circle of gifting mayhem and i’m very glad i wasn’t in charge. (thanks for taking that on, samantha and elizabeth!)

i got to play santa for the lovely meg of the next chapters. i immediately liked/was jealous of meg because of the fact that she lives in dc, which is on my list of cities where i would like to live someday. meg is a nurse and it was so much fun picking out and wrapping all of her little goodies (pictured above). you’ll have to hop on over to her blog to see what was inside! (including a fun craft that i was pretty obsessed with!)

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when i got home from my last day of work before a deliciously long christmas vacation (which ended yesterday. i’m not crying. yes i am.), this package, from jenna of shutter to spatula, was waiting on my front stoop. i could write an essay about how giddy packages (or basically anything that isn’t a bill or credit card offer) in the mail make me. especially at christmas. i opened it the next morning – the first of my vacation – and it was like a wonderful mini-christmas morning celebration. except that i was alone and there were no cinnamon buns. but still. there were presents…

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jenna, i’m drinking champagne as i write this in your honor, girl. it’s the thought that counts!

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my first glimpse of the swedish fish bags had me SUPER excited. i may or may not have killed the first bag before the day was over. as if that’s even the least bit surprising.

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before…

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…and after! (i removed the swedish fish here because i had already opened them. at 10:00 a.m.)

jenna’s presents are so perfect it’s like she’s known me for years. i squealed twice when opening them. first, when i opened the tocca candle. it smells delicious and it’s beautiful. candles make me happy and i truthfully burn them almost daily. i think i’m going to save this one until spring because the gardenia and green apple scent makes me wish for springy dresses and seventy degree temps. tocca is fancy and i feel fancy with a tocca candle.

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as soon as starbucks started displaying these gorgeous golden mugs, i added them to my christmas list. jenna didn’t know this, but i was SO excited to open one! i think i actually jumped up and down a little. then i wasted no time using it and my new via peppermint mocha (surprisingly good!) for breakfast.

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quiet, leisurely breakfasts on days off are one of my favorite things in life. jenna, thanks for making mine that much more beautiful and delicious on my first day of christmas vacation.

in short, sending presents to strangers is fun. and getting presents from strangers is fun. especially when those strangers become new friends. also, getting mail is fun and christmas is fun. it’s a win-win-win-win. merry christmas (for the final time – i PROMISE) and here’s to the next blog exchange in 2014!

linking up here and here!

my christmas house

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

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christmas at my house is basically my favorite. it’s kind of depressing how much trouble it is to decorate so extensively for a mere three weeks, but it’s still worth it. thankfully, because i choose not to use red or really any bright colors this time of year, a lot of it is also relevant to the rest of the winter, which makes some of the un-decorating a bit less painful in january. if it were up to me, i’d put up these decorations in october, but alas. i won’t bore you with too much narration here – enjoy a little glimpse of christmas at my teeny-tiny house!

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a patient advent

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

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advent, for many reasons, is one of my favorite things about christmas. it’s such a beautiful, simple celebration of the Lord’s faithfulness amidst the harriedness of the christmas season. it seems every year i learn something new during advent, and this year has been no different. you can read about it here on ibelieve. i hope what the Lord has shown me in 2013 is just as encouraging to you as it’s been to me.

image credit: weheartit

they’re here

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

this morning, my coworkers and i deemed it “bagel thursday” and took a walk to panera for a little carbo loading. as overstreet mall crawled with professionals with somewhere far more important to be than in line for some empty calories, i realized something amazing.

the starbucks red cups are here.

i was so excited in fact, that i forgot all appropriate social behavior, stopped walking and practically shouted “STARBUCKS HAS RED CUPS!” so loudly that people looked. people holding red cups, that is.
some may argue that it’s too early. i am not some. call me crazy, but grande americanos are far more delicious when the cup is red. and that is all.

image: biggerinreallife

hometown holiday

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

the historic downtown concord holiday tour of homes was much more enjoyable than the charlotte one, to be honest. downtown concord is so sweet and boasts a lot of really beautiful historic homes. i love them and going inside them and enjoying all of their historic quirks and impressive renovations is so much fun. especially when your mom buys you a homemade peppermint ice cream cone at the cabarrus creamery after you’re done.

home #1 had the most fantastic art collection – including a lot of local artists – and was almost condemned before the current owners gutted and renovated the entire thing. very impressive.

my favorite pieces in the house – totally smitten.

 the cannon house, one of concord’s oldest and most well-known homes is for sale and can be yours for just 1.3 million. and just when you weren’t sure how to spend your christmas cash. you’re welcome.

my favorite home on the tour:

the dining room was the best, however i didn’t get a very good picture.

quite possibly my dream kitchen. my entire house could fit in this room.

love big prints in small spaces. this wallpaper was top-notch.

house #3 is also a favorite – i spent two summers nannying for the family that lived here at the time. it’s lovely and it was fun seeing the changes that the new owner has made over the last few years.

the owner collects antique british tapestries like the one shown here. cool.

 
quite possibly the sweetest girl’s room ever.

and i would really love it if this were my bedroom.

 
more gorgeous powder room wallpaper.
some shots from a few other homes on the tour…

yes, that’s a silver leaf ceiling. stunning.

my most favorite house in concord. if it were for sale (and i could afford it) i would live there. wish it had been on the tour so i could see inside!

love this living room (above and below).

why, yes, that is a coffee maker in the bathroom. genius.

i also used to nanny for the family that lives here. i didn’t take a lot of photos (it was crowded), but the home is also one of my very favorites. it’s so quaint and cozy with a great backyard. and, in case you’re interested, the front yard is a great place for sword fighting with a five-year-old.

stay tuned for my christmas house tour!

it’s christmas time in the city

Monday, December 26th, 2011

merry christmas! i had an absolutely extraordinary holiday with my family, and i cannot believe how blessed we are. i fully recognize that christmas was yesterday, however, i completely believe that christmas/the holiday season should be celebrated just as exuberantly between now and epiphany (january 4th), so i intend to do so with a fun queue of christmas blog posts over the next week or so. merry christmas from me to you.

over the past few weeks, i have had the opportunity to go on two christmas home tours. i don’t know about you, but i am extremely nosy when it comes to pretty houses. being able to go in people’s homes and snoop through their rooms and decor style is guaranteed to be enjoyable, even when the decorating style isn’t my own taste. don’t you agree? visiting people’s homes as a guest (or home tour ticket holder) is way more fun than peeking in the windows. but, um, i don’t do that kind of thing. really.

first up, the fourth ward charlotte home tour. the fourth ward consists of the northwest tip of uptown and features some truly beautiful historic homes and very cool new spaces as well. honestly, while i love the area, i wasn’t extremely enthralled with most of the homes on the tour. the decor was rather uninspiring and unchristmas-y with the exception of a few spaces below. rather than bore you with the details, enjoy some lovely photos and forgive my extreme inability to take adequate night photos.

there were hand-bell players on the porch of this home. it was lovely.

alexander michael’s is the sweetest, coziest neighborhood tavern.

and now, my favorite home on the tour…

the original house was moved in the 1970’s and placed sideways to fit on this lot. the front door is actually on the side and it’s excellent.

 

i am dying over all the built-ins. so fantastic.

this home also had the most exceptional little collection of iron structure souvenirs – vintage and new. there was actually an entire other shelf of them – i think it’s such a unique thing to collect.

…and, i’d like to move in tomorrow. the end.

i drive past this building every day on my way to work and i think it is beautiful.

i know i live/work here so i am technically biased, but i think uptown charlotte is lovely, especially at night.

the mccoll center for visual art is a renovated church that now hosts artist studio and gallery space. i love how they’ve kept the integrity of the building and all the original brick – it’s a stunning space. 

stay tuned tomorrow for many more (daylight and therefore not blurry and dark) photos of the historic downtown concord christmas tour. and then, a christmas tour of my own house as well. because i’d really rather you not peek through the windows.

we need a little christmas

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

images: 1.flickr 2.flickr 3.eddieross 4.flipflopsandpearls 5.weheartit 6.bhg 7.tumblr 8.tumblr 9.dustycoyote 10.junkgardengirl