Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas 2010

We had a wonderful Christmas this year!! I was so thankful to have my blog post from last year telling about Christmas because I had already forgotten so much of it!

Christmas Eve, we continued many of our traditions. First, we went to the movies and saw "Tangled" which we both absolutely loved!!! Next we went to the Christmas eve service at church. Ashleigh, Mandy, and I sang "Jesus, what a beautiful name". My parents and brother came and we all got to take communion as a family. It was, as always, so beautiful.

We came home and began a new tradition of eating Taco Soup for dinner. I totally played Feliz Navidad as we filled up our bowls, I am just that cheesy.

Then, once Eden and William came, we watched "A Muppet's Christmas Carol". That's when I really started feeling the magic of Christmas, those songs do it to me every time!

The next morning, Jason and I woke up and had Christmas morning, just the two of us. We started by opening our stockings. Then Jason read the Christmas story and cooked breakfast. Then, Zero got in on the fun and came in and opened his presents (haha, oh yes we did).

Opening his wrapped present, all without thumbs, very impressive...

It's a...
Bone!

Next, Jason and I unwrapped our other gifts to each other...


And so I can remember when we are old and grey, here is what we got:
For him: 6 blu rays (found at a crazy good black friday deals at wally world), two pairs of jeans, some random groceries, and his favorite: the pointer finger!! He saw it at Hob Lob and played with it all through out the store, so Santa decided to bring home the joy and put it in his stocking.

For her: two Christmas movies (my favorite), headphones, three cds, a game, a beautiful antique cake plate, and continuing the jewelrey-on-the-tree tradition, a beautiful necklace! That crazy hair is all mine thou, haha.

We chilled out for a while and then heard a sound and found that it was sleeting which soon turned into a beautiful snow. We went out and relished in it because we knew it probably wouldn't last! Here we are with the first few flakes:

To our joy and amazement, it kept snowing ALL day!! It turned into the most beautiful white Christmas!! It was Georgia's first since the late 1800s!

It was truly magical.

The day followed with lunch and presents with my family, then dinner and presents with Jason's family, then back to my parents for a crazy awesome Christmas night scavenger hunt. I didn't take pictures again this year of all that, sheesh!

We were so blessed with so much this Christmas and this whole year. I took this picture Christmas night on my mac and I think it really sums up our merry little Christmas:
I'll end with my night's Facebook status which sums it up so well:

This status just can't contain the joy, love, and blessings I feel today. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. From this fullness of His grace we have ALL received ONE BLESSING AFTER ANOTHER. John 1:14,16

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Decor Inspiration: Prepping for the Sales

I'm not quite sure what my problem is, but I can't seem to be content with the look of our Christmas tree.  I can't believe it, but I'm considering hitting up the 90% sales to revamp our Christmas tree again for next year. I really don't know why I care since it's only up for one month, but I've found myself searching for inspiration...

One thing I know I want to do is hang up some ornaments above our tree and from our Christmas chandelier next year ala Lettered Cottage:


I also really like the look of these trees, which are surprisingly just classic red and green:

This one is from Small Words Blog, She calls it "wacky and tacky", but I like it!  I especially like those sticky out things at the top.


This is something else I want to add..floral wire! Our tree looks slightly bare when the lights are out this year.

A totally different look, but I also really like this tree:

 This is actually a friend of mine's house. This is a terrible picture of it, but it is very pretty and natural looking in person. I actually have pictures of this entire house tucked away in my inspiration file that I hope to do a post on soon.

So, there you have it, who knows what my tree will look like next year!

Christmas Redemption

There's a story I've heard my whole life that is said to be a Cherokee Indian proverb...

A wise chief told his grandson that there is a battle that goes on inside everyone. "My son," he began "inside all of us, there are two wolves, an evil wolf and a good wolf. The evil wold is full of selfishness, envy, bitterness, greed, malice, and hate. The good wold is full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control
 (ok, I'm paraphrasing, and yes those are the fruit of the spirit).

The young boy thought for a moment, and then asked, "which one wins?"

"The one you feed," he replied.

As much as I hate to admit it, over the past two months, my evil wolf has had a lot more strength than I would like. I've been surrounded by a bit of drama lately, and just as the evil wolf would have it, it has permeated my thoughts and relationships with the majority of people in my life, including my relationship with my Savior. This created a domino effect, and I've definitely felt the darkness creeping up to swallow me, and at some points, I lost my focus.

There are so many things I try to make my "good wolf" believe like the fact that "hurt people, hurt people" and that harboring bitterness only hurts yourself (the person your bitter toward really doesn't care that you are hurt or mad!). I know that I don't ever want to be a mad/bitter person!! I am tired of having joy stolen from me and those I love.

There will always be hateful people, bad circumstances, injustice, selfishness, adversity, and evil. However, I must choose to turn my eyes upon the One who we are celebrating during this season. I know the thief (aka the evil wolf) comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But JESUS came to bring abundant life.

I refuse to let anymore of my abundant life be stolen.

It may seem an odd time to post these thoughts, amidst the slew of Christmas jolly and joy, but upon second thought, it is amazingly apropos.

I think of old Ebenezer Scrooge, and how he found redemption from his bitterness and greed through a reminder of his mortality.

I think of the Grinch, who found redemption through the love of a little girl and the realization that true joy can not be store bought.

I think of Kris Kringle on Miracle on 34th Street when he said, 
"I am not just a whimsical figure who wears a charming suit and has a jolly demeanor, you know. I'm a symbol. I'm a symbol of the human ability to suppress the selfish and hateful tendencies that rule the major part of our lives. And if you can't accept anything on faith, then you are doomed to a life dominated by doubt." 

I think of an all powerful God who left paradise to endure hardship and scorn, injustice and slander, greed and selfishness on earth even though he didn't have to. The One who looked evil right in the face so that we can have this wonderful, abundant life and eternity in Heaven.

So, I'm off to feed the good wolf through everything from the big stuff, like the amazingness that is fellowship with the Holy Spirit through His word, to simple Christmas pleasures and warm fuzzies, you know the type.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Favorites

I love Christmas! I just want to soak it up!! You can bet in the month of December that any movies I watch or music I listen to will likely be Christmas focused. I even often tell Jason when he wants to do something non-holiday focused in December, "That isn't very Christmas-y".

So, I decided to compile a list of my favorite Christmas movies and songs:

First my favorite movies (7...I know strange number)

7. Home Alone
6. Miracle on 34th Street
5. The Santa Clause
4. Polar Express
3. The Grinch (Jim Carey)
2. Elf

& undisputedly number one:
1. Muppet's Christmas Carol


Two movies everyone raves about but I haven't seen yet are....
It's a wonderful Life
Christmas Vacation

I know, I gotta find them and watch them!

Then Music!! I love music!! I split it into categories:

Popular/Secular:
Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Judy Garland
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays- Nsync
The Christmas song- Carpenters
Santa Clause is coming to town- Jackson 5
Muppet  Christmas Carol Music
All I want for Christmas is you- Mariah Cary
Jesus, what a wonderful Child- Mariah Cary
Emmanuel- Amy Grant
Keep Christmas with you- Sesame Street
Carol of the Bells
Sleigh Ride

I really like these three albums:
Carpenters (Christmas Portrait)~Amy Grant (first one)~Peanuts

Popular Religious:
Mystery- Selah
Welcome to our World- Amy Grant
Joseph's Lullaby- Mercy Me
Winter Snow- Chris Tomlin
Candlelight Carol
When Love came down- POG

Hymns:
Ring the Bells
Oh come all ye faithful
Oh little Town of Bethlehem
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Silent Night (I especially like Taylor Swift's version)

It's so neat because when I look over this list, I can see influence from so many friends I've had over the years, and so many memories come back. I'm sure there are many songs I overlooked! So tell me, what are your top three (or more) favorite Christmas movies and songs !?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Creativity

Over the weekend, I had several projects to tackle and I was bitten by the creativity bug in a major way.

I love being creative. It's when I feel most alive. None of these projects were very exciting or creative to begin with, but I took the opportunity to make them my own!

First, I had two parties that I needed to fix a dish to bring. First, I made the chocolate/peanut butter/ powdered sugar cereal mix that goes by many names:
puppy chow/white trash/muddy buddies/snowman poop, take your pick!

Anyways, as i said, the project wasn't very exciting, but I made it so thru the presentation, it's all about the presentation.

First, I put it in my trifle bowl. Then I decided it could use something more. So I added some ribbon and a gift tag with a verse about snow:



Then, I made spinach dip for a family party. I grabbed my faithful $3 Goodwill basket  (that I've already used 6 or 7 times for different things, great find!!), and found that my plates fit perfectly in them. I put the dip in a clear bowl, and prepped to put my snowflake Ritz when the time came.

Next, I had some wrapping to do. I bought this red swirly paper at Hob Lob this year for $4 (50% off it's normal price of course). It's a little more than I wanted to pay, but I found it to be totally worth it. This paper is awesome!! It is so thick,  has grid lines, and you get a ton of it on the roll!! I picked up some pretty tulle ribbon and loved how these packages turned out!



I actually printed these gift tags for free off of this blog!! I love them, and you can't beat free!!!


I got the checkerboard paper last year 90% off at T@rget along with the curling ribbon. 




I had been wrapping with it for a while, and right after I wrapped my Dad's gift, I discovered that I was out of ribbon. I had some excess paper I had just cut off, and decided to cut out a star or something and just put it on top. I full expected that it would look terrible, but I really didn't care and I knew my Dad wouldn't either. So I started tearing up the paper, and inspiration struck. My little flower-like creation ended up being my favorite "bow" of all!!



So now, the presents are all wrapped and the stockings are hung!! Merry Christmas to all!





Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Decor 2010

Welcome to our house!
This year my "theme" for our decorations were cranberries, starting with the pinecone and cranberry wreath on the front door!!
 Here is our Christmas table scape. I changed out some of my plates to make them red and green and put together the centerpiece.
 The centerpiece may be my favorite decoration of the year. We bought ALL the cranberry stuff at T@rget 90% off last Christmas. The star is actually a tree topper, but I ended up using the one we had last year. So I put it in my goodwill basket, covered it with a scrap of burlap, put the cranberry garland, and sprinkled some left over ornaments and pine cones. I love it!
 Right inside my living room door, you will see my willow tree nativity. My parents gave us this as our wedding present and I actually left it up all year!
 I <3 Christmas cards, especially picture ones!!
 Here is our tree and stockings!
 In a night-time glow... 
 Jason, Zero, and my stocking! We got our stockings and  holders 90% off at Hob Lob the year before we got married, and we got Zero the cute felt one this year at Tar-jay.
 Here are some close-ups of some ornaments: These are also from last year's 90% trip:

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of our traditions is to buy an ornament each year that represents that year for us. This was our first Christmas ornament:
 And here is our 2010 ornament; the year we got our pup!
 My mom gave us this at one of my wedding showers, it's a hand-painted ornament of the chapel we got married in!! Beautiful!


 Our lighted topper:

 The tree skirt may surprise you, its actually my bridesmaid dress from my BFF Amory's wedding !!! I'm all about repurposing! Plus, it just looks really beautiful!


Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Traditions

It's offcial, the Christmas season is here and in full swing! I can't believe tomorrow is the fist day of December! Honestly, time goes by so much more quickly as an adult than as a child!!

This is the second Christmas as a married couple for Jason and I, and something that I have been thinking about a lot lately are the traditions we set as a family.

I have found out about myself that I LOVE traditions and just being festive and jolly in general. However, I want to be careful not to become all type A obsessive over it (very possible...haha)

We already started a few fun traditions last year including buying an ornament each year that represented that year, spending Christmas morning together with just our family and cooking breakfast and reading the Christmas story, and our church's Christmas Eve service.

Plus, we have some traditions with my family that I love like going to see Christmas lights, watching A muppet's Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve night, and our newest tradition of a Christmas night gift/scavenger hunt!

There was one thing that we did last year that I refuse-to-repeat-as-long-as-I-live-so-help-me (was that too type A?). I'm almost ashamed to admit this, but due to poor planning on our part last year, both Jason and our families all ate Christmas Eve dinner after our wonderful church service at.... Krystals. Now, I don't like Krystals on a good day, but on Christmas Eve, I wanted to cry!!! How un-festive and disgusting.

So, I'm finding, if I want to make merry, that I need to be the one to make it happen!! In fact, I was inspired of this fact over the weekend. Jason's aunt and uncle invited us over to their house to build gingerbread houses. They have two precious teenage daughters and have been doing this every year since the girls could sit at the table. I was so inspired by Claire, Jason's aunt. She is a very creative person and had the whole house aglow with Christmas music, refreshments, and all the candy you could imagine to decorate your house. She even had a snowman sign that said "Be creative today!" For me, it was one of those becoming-who-you-want-to-be-moments. Number one, I want my home to be a place of creativity for my children. Secondly, I saw that if I wanted to be festive that I could make it happen! No matter the opinion or attitude of everyone else, I can be the Christmas thermostat not a thermometer and change any day from gloom to merriment!

This caused me to start collecting traditions that I hope to start, especially when Jason and I have kids. Here are two ideas I've seen on blogs and loved over the past few days....




I would love to hear some of your traditions too!!
Merry Christmas-ing!!!


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Couponing: I'm hooked!!

So, I've always used coupons, but this weekend I really researched into the coupon game. It is a lot bigger than just using the coupons in the Sunday paper. Sometimes that isn't even the best deal! The secret to my success has been southernsavers.com. It tells you exactly what to buy and what coupons to use. Check out what I got!!
 Kroger:
Kroger usually isn't that great for coupons, but this week was a mega-event. So if you buy 10 items off a certain list, you get $5 off.With that deal plus several coupons, I got all of this, a 51.08 value for 22.96. Thats a 51% savings, yee-haw!
 The drug stores are a little bit complicated, but totally worth it. They give back register rewards for buying certain things, and those register rewards can be spent on anything on the next visit. So it kind of snowballs. Here is what I got at Walgreens. 
Diapers (for Amory's shower, not me, just to be clear) 8.99-2.00 RR-2.50 coupon= 4.49
Crest: 2.49-1.50 RR-1.00 coupon=FREE
Proglide: 9.99-4.00 RR-2.00 coupon=3.99
 CVS: (similar to Walgreens, but they call them extracare bucks)
Irish spring (BOGO) 6.00-2.99 (bogo)-.50 coupon=2.49 for 6 bars
Dawn: .99-.25 coupon=.74
Candy corn: .99-.99 coupon=FREE!
Colgate: 2.99-2.99 EC-.75 coupon= .75 PROFIT!

I ended my trek with the coupon mecca, Publix!
The pumpkin, bananas, and cream of chicken weren't on sale, but everything else was BOGO. Then I had coupons for everything but the ranch. I got the hunt's tomatoes for about .40 each, and the popcorn and broth for about a dollar each! This is a 27.82 worth value and I spent 13.30 which is 52% off!

This is certainly time consuming, but I really enjoyed doing it!! It's all a game, and I love winning games : ). If anyone has any questions about any of this, let me know in the comments, and I will try to help you as much as I can!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall Centerpiece

I have always loved to create, and thanks to many great design blogs, I have been super inspired of the power of decorating your home. It's amazing to me that you can change the feel of a home by a few sights and smells.
I have been wanting to bring fall into my home, but didn't want to spend a lot doing it, so I set out to do a fall centerpiece on a budget.

First, while shopping for elements for my Halloween costume (oh yes), I found this beauty at Goodwill for 2.95! 
In true fashion, I debated on if I should get it, but in the end I couldn't pass it up and I'm so glad I didn't!
On my couponing adventures this week (post up about this later), I got a FREE bag of candy corn and I also picked up a cute little pumpkin.
Then, as I was driving down my driveway, I got super inspired by some beautiful red and yellow leaves. So, I just parked my car in the middle of the road and started gathering branches. Hey, at least this time they were on our property, right Eden? : )
I knew I wanted to use these three elements, and then I started to shop the house. One huge plus of living here is that all of my Grandmother's things are stored super nearby. I must admit, when we were cleaning out the apartment, I was a little over zealous in my desire to clean out and purge these things. So I can already hear my family saying "I told you so" as I state how much I love having all of her things to look through and use. It's like a huge treasure chest! 
Here is what I came out with 
See what I mean? A cute apothecary jar from my grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary, a pretty white ceramic pumpkin, and a simple clear vase (which I went ahead and stuck the leaves in). I love decorating with this stuff because I remember a lot of it from when I was a child and it makes me think of my MeMother. Plus, each piece has a story! Like, look what was on the bottom of that clear vase:

                            
 If you can't read that, it says "Eddy Patterson '74". I was so curious about this, I called my mom to ask her what the story was. She told me that whenever Memother got a gift, she would label it with who gave it to her and the year. She told me this was from a little boy in my Grandmother's Sunday school class! How neat is that? That made me want to label everything I own! You never know what items of yours, your grandchildren may be using 40 or 50 years from now!

Next, I began arranging, I added in a candle I already owned with the things I had collected.
 Not bad! But, it wasn't quite there. The main problem was that everything needed to be higher, so I slid this wood piece Jason made for our wedding, but never quite finished.

Then I stacked everything back in:

 You can't really tell from the picture, but the pumpkin was still a bit short, but I found the perfect remedy:


 Even though it was the perfect color, I still needed to cover up the box and my name on the plate, so I added some scented pinecones I already had:
Looking good!! Just a few more tweaks to be made.

One adjustment I didn't take a picture of was with the candy corn. I didn't really have enough, and it was hard to get your hand all the way to the bottom of the jar, so I remedied that by putting a wad of Saran wrap at the bottom. Sneaky, eh?

Next, I decided to add a little something to our friend, the pumpkin:


I l-o-v-e all things lettered and I love our initial, so it was the perfect thing. As I was making the vine-like "L", a verse popped in my head and I knew I had to add it somehow. Professional designers may say that this addition took away from the overall ambiance, but I love it:



 Nothing more beautiful to decorate a home or a heart than the Word, and such an awesome truth!!

 Finally, the finished product:

I couldn't wait for Jason to get home to see it! When he walked in the door, as if he had been rehearsing it, he said...

I like that centerpiece!
That is a nice centerpiece!

If you didn't know, he was channeling, his friend, Donkey:

I love him.
:)
And I love the how fall is now flowing through our home. That centerpiece makes me happy every time I see it!

And if anyone is curious, here is the budget breakdown:
basket (goodwill): 2.95
pumpkin: 2.12
candy corn: free!
branches: free!
containers: Grandmother's so free!
candle and pinecones: already owned so free!
Total: 4.07

Happy fall ya'll!