Decorating: Getting In The Christmas Spirit

My house has been slowly decorated for Christmas over the past 2 weeks. I don't like to go overboard, but I like to have the basics covered.

First on my agenda was getting stockings. In previous apartments the hubby and I never had a fireplace so we never got around to buying any. But this year we have a fireplace with an honest-to-goodness mantle so some cheerful stockings were in order. I picked up two of these green and white beauties from Amazon, and I love them. I especially love that they're simple yet still festive. I'm a sucker for felt, buttons and top stitching!

Our next bit of Christmas spirit was our tree. Again, having only lived in apartments we never had the room for a real tree. This year we bought a live tree from a local lot and stood her up in the front corner, next to the fireplace. We weren't sure how the cats would react to a real tree in the house* so this year we stuck to lights and a topper only. This way if cats + real tree = tragic mess, none of our family ornaments will get broken. The tree has been up for over a week and so far, so good.

Under the tree, I placed our three winter village houses. They were a gift from the hubby's grandmother, and I have to admit I thought they were a bit tacky when I first saw them. But I hate to waste a gift so I put them out anyway - and now, I love them! They look so cute nestled on our white tree skirt!** Even though our ornament-less look was done out of necessity, I am really loving the white and silver theme we have going on. Less is always more in my book.

My finishing touch was a wreath for the door. I bought a plain wreath when we bought our tree and then worked some crafty magic.
I bought a bag of loose sleigh bells from a craft store and tied them to my wreath. I used monofilament, but you could just as easily use twine, floral wire or anything you might have on hand. I chose not to use glue so that I can remove the bells, unharmed, and re-use them next year. Seriously, this project took me less than 30 minutes, so it's super easy to do every year. I love coming home to the smell of fresh pine and the sound of jingle bells!

This will most likely be my last post for 2009. We have lots of family to see and lots of food to eat, so posting will be light (if not non-existant). The hubby and I have the week between Christmas and New Year's off - we plan to do some furniture buying/assembling over the break, including a trip to Ikea - so I will have lots to share as we begin 2010. Happy holidays!
*I have heard horror stories of cats climbing trees, knocking them over, breaking ornaments, etc and my cats are more devious than most.

**Cheapskate Decorating Tip: That's not actually a tree skirt. It's a fuzzy white blanket from Target. A tree skirt (made of cheaper material) would have cost me $40 but the blanket was only $25. So not only did I save money, but I can use the blanket for its intended purpose the rest of the year to add some cozy texture around the house. If I wanted more coverage I could have bought 2 blankets, but I stuck with 1 for the first go 'round.

Living: Baby Blog

We briefly interrupt your scheduled broadcast ---

I created a baby blog, The Peanut Stand, to keep friends and family in the loop with OB appointments, food cravings, pictures etc. If you have any interest in that sort of thing, feel free to stop in from time to time. If not, don't read it and I won't talk about babies anymore.

--- We now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

Decorating: It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like...

... someone actually lives in my house! You guys thought I was going to say Christmas, didn't you? Well, I have a Christmas post coming tomorrow, so sit tight.

It's been almost a month since we moved into our new house and we have been busy unpacking and trying to get things in place.

When we first looked at the house, one of the only things I didn't like about it was its so-called 'architectural feature.' The public side of the house is laid out with an open plan with a vaulted ceiling. Not too shabby. But, there are these pesky things like coat closets and laundry rooms that have to go somewhere, so they're in the center of the house with a regular ceiling, leaving this weird ledge below the vault. (I apologize if this is hard to follow. Just look at the pictures.)

Everyone else seemed to love the 'feature' but, being a bit of a snob (architects are known for this), I had yet to be convinced. Until...

One day the hubby suggested we use it as a bookshelf. Between all of our architecture books from school and my penchant for classic fiction, we have a lot of books.* I have to say it's nice to be able to display them in an out of the way place and not have to forfeit valuable floor or wall space to a massive bookshelf.

Also, I apologize for the crummy pictures. I wasn't trying to win any photo contests, I just wanted to prove a point. Empty ledge: terrible. Unique book storage: genius. Point for the hubby.

*For those of you on nerd watch, in the close-up photo you can see my massive 'American Short Stories' volume and my large collection of Shakespeare. Yes I took Intro to Shakespeare in college... as an elective... and I sat in the front row and answered every question. I was that kid.

Buying: Merry Christmas To Me!

I just bought myself an early Christmas gift. It's guaranteed to put a smile on my face for months, no years, to come!

Last night I popped into Holly Aiken's shop, Stitch, and I ordered myself a custom diaper bag.

sinking in...

That's right readers, I'm pregnant, expecting, knocked up, eating for two! Any way you spell it, there's serious excitement in my household!

Now before you go clicking 'unsubscribe' let me assure you this will not turn into a baby blog. I will still talk about movies, art, crafting and DIY projects. The only time babies will come up will be baby related craft projects - birth announcements, nursery decorating, maternity refashions, etc. I will most likely start a baby blog so that friends, family and new blog friends can keep up with my latest cravings and ultrasound photos. But rest assured, that content will not find its way here.

So, anyway, back to the diaper bag. I have been a fan of Holly Aiken's work for several years and I have several pieces from her collection already (5 to be exact. I'm not obsessing). She is a NCSU grad, like yours truly, and all her pieces are handmade in her shop in Raleigh, NC. Her bags are great because they have a decidedly retro styling but they are made from heavy duty materials so they can take a serious beating - and since I'm not the type to gal to change handbags every day, I need a sturdy one. All this makes for a perfect diaper bag. Also, I have always known I didn't want a fussy, girly diaper bag because a) I want to be able to carry it for multiple kids, boy or girl and b) the hubby is going to have to carry it too.* Also, once I no longer need a diaper bag, it can easily pass for a kick-ass messenger bag.

So by now I'm sure you're dying to hear what I picked out (and if not, just play along, ok?). I picked the Airship Messenger Bag as my body style and Dove in gunmetal / aqua as my color scheme. I think it's cute enough for a baby accessory but not too cute for the real world.

What do you think? YAY for babies! Sorry, I couldn't help myself. But enough about me. Are there any local or regional businesses you think are worth sharing? Do tell!

*I always feel so bad when I see a dad carrying a pink, quilted Vera Bradley. Come on ladies - gender neutral bags for dads!

UPDATE: I did start a baby blog, and you can read it here.

Living: Anybody Home?


Anyone in here?

Isn't someone supposed to be writing this blog? You know, providing content for the faithful readers? Oh yeah, that would be me. Hmm.

Well, who decided I should move over Thanksgiving weekend, leaving me to unpack while simultaneously gift shopping, hall decking, office partying and merry making?!? Oh, that would be me again.
Surely I can think of some good excuses that won't make me sound tired and whiny.
I'm thinking, I'm thinking
Nope, guess not. There are oodles (that's right, oodles) of bloggers out there that have the usual holiday madness and still manage to write blogs and be fabulous! I must not be one of them. I have so many things to show you, I just need to get off my duff and actually photograph them. I'll be good I promise!

Remembering: Holiday Favorites

I saw this fun survey over on my good friend's blog, and thought I would post it here. Also, because I have been overwhelmed with unpacking and holiday shopping I thought this would be an easy post. Enjoy!

Favorite Holiday Cookie: sugar cookies, using my great-grandmother's secret recipe.

Favorite Winter Breakfast: I'm not a big breakfast eater, but when the mood hits me I love homemade biscuits with apple butter.

Favorite Winter Meal: Pierogi, a traditional slovak dish. The hubby's maternal grandfather is of Czech descent so this is also a family recipe. It is a treat because it takes days to make and we only have it once a year.

Favorite Seasonal Winter Veggie: sweet potatoes, any way you cook them

Favorite Seasonal Winter Fruit: fresh NC apples

Favorite Seasonal Dessert: eggnog milkshakes

Favorite Holiday Memory: at the church I grew up in, they hold a midnight service every Christmas Eve. At the close of the service everyone lights their candle, the lights are dimmed and we all sing 'Silent Night' by candle light. Magic.

Your Goal this Season: to give consumable gifts, meaning the gift has to be eaten, experienced or used, not just stuff to sit on a shelf.

Favorite Holiday Song: 'White Christmas' by Bing Crosby

Favorite Holiday Movie: I love all Christmas movies but 'White Christmas' and 'Love Actually' are tied for first.

Looking Forward to this Holiday: I am excited about spending our first Christmas in our new house where we can finally get a real tree, hang stockings on the mantle and put a wreath on the front door.

Favorite Holiday Book/Story: 'The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree' by Barbara Cooney. It is the story of a girl and her mother, going through hard financial times, making themselves the perfect Appalachian Christmas.

If you fill out this survey on your own blog, please comment below with a link so I can read yours too! Let's get to know one another a little better this holiday season.

Making: A Difference

Nothing makes me sadder than the thought of a cat or dog in need of a home. I just read over on Hamburger's House (a doggy spin-off of the always great Young House Love) that a grayhound racetrack in Wisconsin is closing and no longer has a use for its beautiful racing dogs. If the dogs aren't adopted they will be put down! For the full post click here. Please pass this on to anyone and everyone you know who might want a rescue dog or wouldn't mind spreading the word.

Every dog spared is a step in the right direction. Help get these pups a home for the holidays!

Living: 10 Things You Don't Know About Me

Inspired by John and Sherry's recent post I wanted to do a little write-up of yours truly. So without further ado, I present:

10 Things You (probably) Don't Know About Me

1. I have a good ear for mimicking accents and voices. The hubby jokes that he first asked me out because I can talk like Chris from Family Guy.

2. I have a hairline crack in one of my front teeth from face planting on the blacktop in elementary school.

3. I have a knack for movie and TV trivia. I hate to brag, but I kick butt at Friends Scene-It.

4. My underwear drawer is divided into 5 sections, each with its own purpose and folding style:
---Briefs [laying flat] - daily wear
---Boxer Briefs [square fold] - to wear under skirts
---Old Briefs [square fold] - just for Aunt Flo
---Thongs [too damn small to fold] - because some outfits require them
---String-Side Bikinis [rolled] - back-up undies... I don't like them but there's nothing wrong with them so I refuse to throw them out.

I'm fairly certain this means I'm crazy.

5. I knew I wanted to be an architect when I was 10. I confirmed this on my 8th grade class trip to Washington DC. All my friends took pictures of themselves but I took pictures of columns, skylights and friezes. Yes, I've been a nerd a very long time.

6. I am very particular about organization (see #4). I have been known to rearrange the dishes in the dishwasher if they're not stacked the 'right' way. I know, they don't get any cleaner my way, but I can't help it.

7. I am terrified of medical needles (IVs, shots, etc) but tattoo and piercing needles don't bother me in the slightest. I know this because I once fainted because of an IV but I was cool as a cucumber when I got my piercings.

Proof: I used to have an eyebrow ring. Don't laugh at my hair, it was halloween.

8. I have a mild blood clotting disorder. It has never, ever had any effect on my life but it means I'm not allowed to give blood.

9. One of my strengths (and one of my flaws) is that I plan everything before I need to. I'm not pregnant, but I've had baby names picked out for years. I decide what I want to buy before I have the money saved up. We haven't even closed on our house, but I've already bought furniture for it and I know what colors to paint it when we move in. You get the idea.

10. I am a terrible multi-tasker, and not in a good way. I normally have 2-5 craft projects going at any given time. This is hardly productive but I always get distracted while I'm in the middle of working. Most things get finished, but there are 1 or 2 projects that have hung around for years, just like that scarf I started knitting in January of 2004 that's sitting in the bottom of my closet.

So did anything surprise you? Anything you're dying to know about that I didn't mention?

NOTE: I wrote this post many weeks ago, and I've been saving it for a slow blog day. I just realized that some of my statements are incorrect. We've already closed on the house and already got it painted. But the idea is still the same. Carry on.

Organizing: With A Little Help From My Friends

Boring tasks are so much more enjoyable when you have help from friends and family. Yo-Yo is quite the "helper" himself.

Here he is packing some boxes...

... and here he is laying down carpet tiles.

I apoligize if you don't find this as funny as I do. I promise this isn't turning into a crazy cat-lady blog. Well, not entirely.
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