Category Archives: Holiday

Favorite Things 2011

This Christmas I had an idea to put together couple gift bags for some of our family and friends with a sample of our favorite things of 2011. It was a lot of fun coming up with and narrowing down our favorites.
Blind Pilot is an American indie folk band based in Portland, Oregon. They started off by doing a bicycle tour in 2008, biking from Bellingham, Washington to San Diego, California, carrying their instruments on custom bicycle trailers they fashioned themselves. Seriously, how cool is that? After listening to their new album (which we added to the gift bag) and then seeing them live in Memphis this fall, we were hooked!
This year we have tried to drastically improve our diets. One of the ways we did that was by doing all of our grocery shopping at Whole Foods. Their 365 store brand is both delicious and affordable. We are also big fans of reusable bags, so we threw a rolled up Whole Foods bag into the gift bag.
I read The Hunger Games trilogy last summer and absolutely loved them! At some point, Ben decided he wouldn’t lose his man card and he read them right before Christmas. I, of course, had to reread them too so we could talk about it. Ben suggested we name our future daughter Katniss, so obviously he was a fan:) We dropped the first book in the gift bag to get everyone hooked!
Our friends who already owned The Hunger Games got the 2nd season of Parenthood instead. This is our favorite TV show of 2011. I was originally interested because it has Lauren Graham from Gilmore Girls, but the entire cast and writing on this show is phenomenal!
Since I launched this blog back in Feb blogging 3 x’s a week, I’ve spent more money at Starbucks on no-water-chai-tea-lattes than I care to admit. They’re like Christmas morning in a cup. Hazelnut coffee at Panera is good and free wifi at the library is nice, but Bucks is my “happy place” so I had to throw in a gift card.

Last but not least, Ben compiled his favorite quotes from this year and wrote out a short explanation explaining why each of them resonated with him. This was by far my favorite part of our gift bag! I married a genius.

So, who’s jealous that they didn’t receive a “Ben and Monica’s Favorite Things 2011” gift bag? Maybe next year I’ll give one away on my blog. What are your favorite things of 2011?

Images found here, here, here, here and here.

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Christmas Gift Wrapping Ideas

If you’re a Crafty McCrafterson like myself, you roll your eyes at store-bought wrapping paper and long for something more! I was all gung ho this year on buying brown butcher paper and ribbon for our gifts. That was until Ben brought down everything from the attic which included 2 brand new rolls of wrapping paper I apparently bought on clearance after x-mas last year.
NO!! How could I have sabotaged my creative self an entire year ago without even knowing it? Luckily, it was super cute paper that I knew I could work with. Did I mention that I decided to do this project within hours of us leaving for MO to spend Christmas with my family last weekend?
I wanted to buy jute string to add texture and then to cut out doves (I used a Whole Foods bag) with the names written in white. Michaels doesn’t carry jute string, so I opted for hemp. I also picked up a Martha Stewart painting stencil with the bird template. I completely forgot to get a white pen so I just used a black calligraphy pen I already had. The best laid plans… am I right?
My sis-in-law outdid me by using my coveted butcher paper and beautiful, wide red ribbon (I can’t believe I forgot to take a pic!). She said that she got the butcher paper from Hobby Lobby in the framing dept (who knew?). As you can see above, the possibilities of accessorizing butcher paper are endless!
Here’s another fun idea using alphabet stamps which adds that personal touch!
I love this simple, yet sophisticated wrapping idea using a cut-out snowflake – ooh la la! Feel free to click on any of the pics above for the links.

What’s your favorite gift wrapped look this season? Did anyone else sabotage themselves via after-Christmas sales? Who is using something besides wrapping paper to wrap gifts – newspaper, fabric, TP?

Gift wrapping images found here, here and here.

O Christmas Tree

Ben dragged “Christmas” out of the attic the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I had visions of scrapping all of our previous decor and going for a more natural look, but I ended up keeping the basics and just doing some tweaking.
We bought an artificial, pre-lit tree our first Christmas together and I’m so glad we did! The accent color I went with was primarily gold along with the icy blue and green ball ornaments that I also have scattered throughout the house. I bought that wire ribbon and love hanging it in 4 pieces around the tree.
When I was putting up ornaments this year, I decided only to put up ones that have special meaning or sentimental value to us. You know how you start to acquire “randoms” from ornament parties and such? Well, those are going to Goodwill to beautifully adorn someone else’s tree. As you know, I like simple.
This silver bell was the first ornament ever given to us on our first Christmas by some of our favorite people in this world, Bailey and Joyce McBride. They were our sponsors on the study abroad program we met on back in ’00 and Bailey married us in ’03. It’s by far my favorite ornament!
I switched out the ribbon on my moss T to a sparkly gold so he would match.
I cannot tell y’all how long I looked for the perfect something to set on these candle holders! I went back and forth between ball ornaments and sparkly candles until I found these cute star ornaments for $2 each at Target.
Since we don’t have a mantel, I’ve always hung our stockings on this frame (there are permanent push pin holes in the top to prove it). I always switch out the regular bamboo print with this family Christmas pic of us for fun. I added the “C” stocking this year even though it doesn’t match because it was so darn cute.
Have I mentioned that we have the most adorable puppy in the world?!
Last but not least, we have this mistletoe hanging in the doorway between our kitchen and dining room and it earns its keep if you know what I mean;)

What’s your favorite ornament hanging on your tree? Are you a “more the merrier” tree trimmer or a simpleton like myself? Feel free to link up to the link party below if you have a Christmas tree blog post to share!

Festive Christmas Shelves

I can honestly say that I’ve never put as much thought into decorating our home for the holidays than I have this year. After putting together a Christmas tablescape, it was time to switch out my fall shelf for something more festive!
Here’s what I ended up with. The Santa and tree both came from Pier 1 (I think I paid $5 for the tree on clearance after x-mas one year). I also switched out the pumpkin card for a snowman card I found at Target in the floating frame.
I reused the glass dishes and votive candles, but simply switched out the candy corn for acorns that I got in a filler pack. I really wanted fresh swags for the pine scent since we don’t get a real tree, but then I woke up to this…
We got to live in a snow globe for a few hours until it all melted off. Plan B was a $4 9-ft fake swag from Target so I wouldn’t have to go to an outdoor tree farm.
I had plenty of swag left over, so I used it for the bottom TV shelf (note to self: hide those cords!). I got the JOY sign from the $2.50 section at Target last year. I love how adding something so simple can create that cozy, Christmas feel!
I also replaced the mini pumpkins that were in this lantern with ornaments. Are you beginning to see a pattern? Simple switch-outs = easy seasonal decorating!

What are your favorite pieces that make your home feel like Christmas? Am I the only one who has a kitchen shelf reserved for decor? If you have a mantel or shelf to share, feel free to join the holiday home link party below!

A Christmas Tablescape

When the holidays come around, I just don’t know where to begin in decorating (as you know from my previous post). I thought it would be a good idea to eat this elephant one bite at a time and decided on our tabletop.
I opted for non-traditional blue and green accent colors and love how it turned out! I know what you’re thinking – what happened to my “natural Christmas” theme idea? What can I say, I just love color too much!
It all began with these adorable monogrammed ornaments we spotted at the West Elm Outlet a couple of weeks ago. The only problem was that they had a “B”, but no “M” so I improvised by flipping a “W” and restitched the string.
The centerpiece was super fun to throw together. Here’s a rundown of the items: tall glass vase: Ross, ornaments and placemat: Wal-Mart, jute x-mas tree: Hobby Lobby, small green vase: $2 from a house sale, sticks: my backyard.
One of my favorite things I did was use powdered sugar for “snow” filler – I think Will Ferrell would approve:) I also like the look of the silver mini ornaments in the green vase which I grabbed from the $1 section at Target last year.
I wanted this tabletop to be a little fancier than the vibe our everyday dishes give off. I was scratching my head wishing I had white fancy dishes when it dawned on me – um, I have completely neglected china! The icy blue napkins are from Target and I added a simple silver ornament for some sparkle.
Here’s my traditional “from the kitchen” pic. I love how the tabletop looks with the new frame collage! Whether I’m decorating a tabletop or an entire room, I always try to keep in mind my “less is more” rule. I like to keep it simple.

So what do you all think – does it put you in the Christmas spirit? Anyone else like to decorate with sticks and sugar? Have you blogged about your Christmas tablescape? Feel free to join the link party below!

Post-Thanksgiving Blues

I’m not sure if I actually have the blues – it’s more of an unsettled feeling about what all I have to get done in the next day/week/month. We spent the last 5 days on the road making the family rounds to both OK and MO. We were hoping to hear 4 state versions of the Lady Gaga You and I song, but we only managed 3.
We had a lot of fun, but I’m finding it difficult to get back into the groove of things. I saw a movie with a friend when we got back into town last night and Ben had a surprise waiting for me when I got home…
I had barely mentioned when we were going to put the Christmas tree up and he had it all set up – we’re talking MAJOR hubby points! The high-hung curtains actually make our tree look a little dwarfed – we’ll see once we get the star on.
This is the current state of our living room. It was nearly impossible to pry myself off the couch this morning with that snugly PB throw and our Kindle!
I wasn’t the only one snuggled up. Cali has been trying to catch up on her beauty sleep since she’s used to sleeping 12+ hrs. during the day:)
Ben also brought down all of our x-mas decor from the attic which is waiting for me to put up. We’ll see how my natural Christmas idea pans out.
I probably did more seasonal decorating this fall than I ever have before, so all of that needs to be replaced with Christmas/winter decor.
We might as well leave out the suitcase because later this week we’re getting back on the road and taking a short business trip to Nashville (sigh).
Look at these beautiful red berries that I discovered when I opened the blinds in our guest bedroom! I can’t wait to incorporate these into my x-mas decor.

Anyone else feeling a little overwhelmed on this Cyber Monday? Am I the only one who hasn’t unpacked from Thanksgiving travels? What’s your favorite outdoor element you’ve used to decorate in your home?

A Natural Christmas

I was at Hobby Lobby the other day wandering through the Christmas aisles (which have for reals been up since July) and realized that I am being drawn to more of a natural look for Christmas decor.
Even at 50% off, 2 of those jute Christmas trees would run me $30! I do have a gift card there after returning a print from our dining room. Hmmm…
I absolutely love all the natural colors and textures used on this tree. Oh, and I MUST figure out a way to DIY that monogrammed burlap tree skirt!
This would be the perfect sparkly ornament to go on that tree! How fun would it be to make these for friends that you normally wouldn’t exchange gifts with? Of course last year I went out and bought lime green and powder blue ornaments because I was tired of the red and gold ones we always used – grrrr!
I’m thinking that vase with tree branches and brown cards tied to them would be the perfect natural-looking centerpiece for my table! Now my wheels are spinning on how to recreate this look throughout our home on a budget. I’m thinking I’m going to need burlap, lots and lots of burlap:)

Do you have a Christmas “style” or do you just throw everything up that happens to be in the boxes up in your attic like we usually do? Where is your favorite place to buy affordable Christmas decor? Am I the only crazy person who has had Christmas on the brain since Starbucks switched to their holiday cups?

Christmas decor images found here, here and here.