Happy New Year! Our Christmas was pretty low key. I definitely didn’t finish a lot of the things I wanted to before Christmas morning, and I also forgot to charge the batteries for my T3i so all I have are cellphone pictures from Christmas morning, The kids were excited and happy so it’s hard to be all that disappointed. I’m trying to relax my standards and expectations, specifically for myself, in the New Year.
I did manage to get some great shots of the kids in front of the Christmas tree. Well, 2/3 of the kids…
Logan was having none of that hold-still-and-smile nonsense. I cannot wait until he’s older and I can remind him of what a ornery child he was, hopefully it’ll be at a time when his own child is testing his patience to the max.
Though I was finished shopping in the beginning of December, as usual, I didn’t even start wrapping until Christmas Eve Eve and Christmas Eve. As usual. I enjoy bows and ribbon and curls and pretty wrapping paper, but mostly just picking them out and combining them. The actual wrapping part kind of sucks.
I would take them to those places in the mall that wrap them for you but they only use their own paper and let’s be honest now: it’s ugly paper. Someone needs to start a wrapping service. One that offers the choice to use your own wrapping paper or selections for different color schemes and trim levels1. I know for a fact that would make a great company and there are plenty of people who are lazy but want their presents to look like Martha Stewart had a hand in their presentation (me, this is me). Someone do this! Not me, like I said, wrapping = blurg.
But all of the presents managed to get wrapped and under the tree before the kids woke up on Christmas morning, and again that’s all the matters and so I won’t let myself be disappointed in my supposed shortcomings.
When Claire woke up and glimpsed the presents under the tree she practically exploded with wonder.
We totes watched Elf a solid fifteen times this month.
All she could talk about was Santa and the gifts he brought and the cookies he ate and the milk he drank and the carrots his reindeer nibbled. I know it’s become a recent trend to buck Santa and I’ve actually caught some flack from other parents for “lying” to the kids (technically just kid as Logan doesn’t have the receptive communication skills to even care about who brings the presents and Julia is an infant).
Here’s my opinion on the whole Santa thing: Parents aren’t supposed to be completely honest with their young children. When Claire asks me if I’ll keep her safe from monsters I tell her I’ll keep her safe, always and from everything. Is that true? Of course not. I can’t definitively say I can protect her from everything, all the time, no matter what. Am I going to tell my preschooler that? No. That very reality sometimes keeps me up at night, why would I inflict that on a child? I’m going to tell her what she needs to hear to feel safe and secure. Maybe some people think that’s coddling or whatever, but I believe children deserve to be children for a time. She’ll have decades to be aware of the dangers of this world, while she’s young she deserves to be shielded until she’s mature enough to properly process it. It may not seem like that has much to do with Santa, but I believe it falls in line with “let kids be kids”. Only a small portion of her life is her childhood, why not let it be magical? If a white lie helps fill her with wonder and joy I have zero qualms.
Christmas morning was fun. We had baked French toast for breakfast and gorged on the fudge and sea salt caramels I’d made the night before. The kids opened their presents from Santa and various family members. Andrew’s brother and sister came over later and the kids had more presents to open. The amount of wrapping paper, bows, bags, boxes, tags, and packaging was insane.
The kids and I left in the afternoon and headed down to Raleigh to have Christmas dinner with my sister. We stayed the night and the day after Christmas went to Southpoint, one of my most favorite malls ever. I had forgotten the stroller and it was the day after Christmas, so the trip had its challenges, but the kids had fun and I loved spending time with my sister. We headed back home Thursday night and spent Friday just lazing around, recovering from the holiday hoopla.
We actually didn’t do anything for New Year’s. The kids went to bed early and Andrew and I went out to eat then came home and played some WoW before falling asleep before midnight. Yeah, we’re like officially lame now.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and an excellent New Year! I have some posts I’m working on to recap all of the fun of 2013.
I’m pretty sure that’s the best pun of my entire life. Go me! *selfiefive* ↩
There’s only a week until Christmas, have you made your Christmas list and checked it twice? It seems like the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas just flies by! If you’re looking for some great last-minute gifts that will be able to get under the tree before Christmas morning!
 Maya Brenner Asymmetrical Initial Necklace in Sterling Silver  Marc Jacobs Rollerball Trio Set  Ann Taylor Metallic Bow Tie Crossbody Bag  Kate Spade Holiday Lip Crayons  Fayette Vegan Leather Jacket  J. Crew Lodge Moccasins
 Calvin Klein Hooded Twill Jacket  Sony 3D Blu-Ray Player with WiFi  Garmin nuvi2597  Brass Anchor Bottle Opener  Platinum Grid Tie  English Laundry Signature Series Set  Nike Dri-FIT Crew Socks
I love taking baths; long, hot baths with candles and a good book. And of course a little something to make the water smell heavenly and leave my skin smooth and soft. I’ve long been addicted to those awesome bath melts at Lush, but $6+ for a 1oz melt? Umm, nah. For a while now I’ve been making my own, and I love them. They’re super easy to make and rather inexpensive when you make them in batches, which just so happens to be perfect for gift giving.
I use a very simple recipe as a base for all of the bath melts I make and then play around with adding things like essential oils, tea, and even herbs.
- 100 grams of butter
Suggestions: shea, cocoa, mango
- 1 tablespoon of oil
Suggestions: almond, coconut, jojoba
This amounts makes about 24 small melts. I always use candy or chocolate molds so I get smaller melts. A little goes a long way and if the melts are too big they can make the water feel icky and leave residue in the tub.
Customizing Your Melts
You can add just about anything to a bath melt, in this recipe I added fresh orange zest and chai tea. They smell amazing! Other suggestions:
- Essential oils
Lavender, bergamot, chamomile, jasmine, ylang ylang
- White tea
- Lemon zest
- Raw honey
- Dried rose petals
Rosemary, lavender, eucalyptus, spearmint
- Vanilla bean
- Coarse ground cinnamon
- Epsom salts
We finally started decorating the tree! Thursday Andrew and I put the lights on, which is always such a lovely adventure. I just rolled my eyes but since this is blog you can’t see that and since there’s no such thing as a sarcasm font1 you’ll just have to take my word for it, that statement was oozing with sarcasm. Christmas lights are one of the worst parts of the holiday season. They work perfectly when you put them away, so why don’t they when you take them out? What happens to them in storage? I insists it’s SAD but Andrew says lights don’t have emotions. Maybe it’s attitudes like that crush their tiny bulb spirits.
So after going out and buying two new 100-count strands of lights to replace one of the 200-count strands that wasn’t working we discovered one of the new strands wasn’t working either. Awesome, not. So back out to get another strand. Oh but those were the last 100-count strands at Target, but they do have these 200-count ones that weren’t here when I was in there an hour ago. UGH, lame! So I went to Lowes and found a 100-count strand of lights and by the time I got home I didn’t even want to look at the tree. Andrew thankfully took over and made sure the tree had 400 perfectly spaced lights, exactly how my brain needed it to be so it wouldn’t explode. After that we put on the red glitter ribbon and called it night.
Last night we helped the kids hang the glitter snowflakes and ornaments, but by this morning quite a few had mysteriously ended up on the floor… I guess we’ll have to break out the gate, though I was thinking we wouldn’t need it as Claire and Logan should be old enough to know better than to mess with the tree and Julia is mostly immobile. She’s rolling and scooching and even starting to get her knees under her, but thankfully easily confined and usually stays where you put her.
I still need to get a picture of the tree now that it’s all done, so hopefully I remember to do that soon. This weekend we have a surprise party to go to, and then next week Andrew will be in Virginia Beach Tuesday to Thursday for work training stuff. Speaking of Andrew’s work stuff, I can finally talk about that thing I mentioned a while ago about how Andrew would be able to be home more and wouldn’t have to stay in northern Virginia to work during the week. Andrew got a job in Charlottesville! He starts on Monday the 16th. Thursday he turned in his work truck and electronics to his old job who have been very cool. Here’s to out future in Charlottesville and a very merry Christmas!
This evening we headed up to The Market at Grelen in Somerset to pick out a tree. It was beautiful up there, this picture is looking out over the little valley below the trees and shop. There were some gorgeous wreaths and swags as well, but the kids were so excited about the trees I didn’t get a chance to look at them. We were intending to cut down our own tree but we ended up wandering into the lot of pre-cut ones. Though we didn’t cut it down ourself Claire and Logan did find a rather lovely 6′ Fraser fir. I’ve always been a fan of Frasers. They’re short needled, so easier to clean up after and less shedding, and they tend to be taller and thinner which helps to fit them in smaller places. Pretty much perfect in my opinion. Plus I love how green they are.
We got the tree home and got it up in the stand, but with the hubbub of dinner and then bath time which is always closely followed by bedtime we haven’t had a chance to decorate it. Tomorrow is busy but hopefully when we get home in the evening we can get the lights and ornaments on the tree. We’re getting a late start on our Christmas decorating this year, but I can’t wait until we get it all up and going. Ready for the Christmas spirit!
Andrew, the kids, and I celebrated Thanksgiving at the lake house on Lake Gaston with his family and my older sister. It was a great time with lots of delicious food and fun family time. Hope your Thanksgiving was warm and bright as well. I simply can’t believe it’s already December. Though it’s not technically winter for another 20 days or so I’ve always viewed Thanksgiving as the end of fall and the beginning of winter. Which of course means it’s Christmas time!
There are so many great Christmas traditions: hot cocoa after fun in the snow; building gingerbread houses that never look as nice as the ones on Pinterest; baking a ridiculous amount of cookies and eating most of them before they’re even in the oven. One of my favorite Christmas traditions though are holiday cards. I love sending out wishes of happiness and cheer this time of year. Even if I can’t see everyone I love and care about for Christmas, I can still remind them that I’m thinking of them and give them pictures of my kids while I’m at it. Who doesn’t want pictures of my kids?
This year I’m loving Minted’s line up of new Christmas photo cards. I just adore all of the options each card has. The offerings of interesting cutout shapes is great. Most sites offer either straight edges or occasionally rounded corners, but with Minted there is a plethora of shapes to really make your cards stand out this holiday season. Most cards also have options for changing the color scheme, perfect for those times you love a design but the existing colors just aren’t quite right for the photo you want to use.
Personalizing your cards are super easy with Minted’s card builder. Upload photos, drop them in, edit the fonts, even move the text to the most suitable place. I can’t think of another editor that gives such room for creativity.
Combine that with flat versus folded and all of the option for paper – including recycled, pearlescent (So calling my name!), double and even triple thick – and it’s clear that Minted is dedicated to providing high quality cards suited for everyone.
Cards I Love
Complete Love in Brick with Classic Frame | Holiday Revelry in White with Curved Frame
Most Wonderful Time in Navy | Glittered Snowflake in Gold with Modern Snowflake Frame
I’m in so in the Christmas spirit after perusing all of the lovely designs over at Minted! Go have a look and find the cards you love the most, I’d love to see them :)
I love to send Christmas cards. If you’d like one feel free to fill out this form and I’ll be send one your way ❤
This weekend was a lazy sort. Andrew came home kind of late Saturday night but we still made it out the door in time to catch the 11:30 showing of Catching Fire. Ugh, yes, so much yes. I love the books but Jennifer Lawrence makes the movies. The scene in the elevator with Johanna1 was just, gah, I love her.
As I discussed with Shannon and Dez on Twitter tonight I feel it could have been more substantial. The book offered a lot of insight and back story for the other winners and the movie really glossed over all of it. I understand there are time constraints, but I’m willing to sit through an awesome three hour movie based on an awesome book. I watched Titanic like 15 times in theaters when I was in 5th grade, you can bet I’ve got movie-going stamina.
Sunday was a pretty lazy day. We went to one of my favorite shopping centers here in Charlottesville, Barracks Road. They have an Ulta and a Kate Spade almost right next to each other, so it’s basically my Mecca. We checked out this store called Oil & Vinegar which, as its name implies, has a lot of oil and vinegar. There’s a lot more than just that though, but my favorite offering is the wall of dozens of artisinal olive oils on tap. So cool, I just had to adjust my Christmas shopping list even though I was almost completely done. People need fancy imported and exotic spices and pesto, okay!
We hit up Lindt to grab some stocking stuffers, and also because I’m a little addicted to Lindor Coconut Truffles. I picked out some of the Stracciatella and new Sea Salt truffles, both of which were good. Andrew liked the Stracciatella ones better than I did. He was drawn to the HELLO line of chocolates and immediately snatched up a bag of the Caramel Brownie ones. I’m not overly fond of caramel and I found them to be a bit too sweet, but Andrew liked them quite a bit.
I don’t think that’s a spoiler? But I tend to assume everyone reads books before movie releases, so sorry if this is giving something away, like maybe you really wanted to be surprised by a scene that serves only to flesh out a tertiary character and lighten the mood a bit. ↩
Look, I have friends, like I’m sure we all do, who upload an album of fifty selfies every time they go to the bathroom. I’m not sure what the allure of a water stained mirror is1 but some people simply feel the call of the selfie every time they’re in front of one. Do some of those people have self-esteem problems? Yeah, but the selfies weren’t the only giveaway.
Since being named Oxford Dictionary’s Word of 2013 I’ve seen people on both sides of the selfie debate2 making some pretty decent points. Personally I think it’s all being blown out of proportion. I mean come on, this Jezebel article called them a “cry for help”. Really? I mean really? No, look, selfies are just pictures people take of themselves. Some because they have low self-esteem, others because of the exact opposite reason. Sometimes just because you notice your hair is looking pretty good for having just woken up and you want to document it. Yeah, that was a pretty good hair day. I don’t know what I’m doing with my face, let’s just ignore it and focus on the hair. So really, I think it’s silly to say that selfies are used for one specific reason. That’s like saying because some people use vaguebooking as a means of garnering attention that all Facebook use is harmful to one’s self-esteem.
Though I do agree with this Slate article that outlines how girls are taught to doubt themselves, their abilities, and even compliments, and the fact that selfies can help girls regain that confidence and let them know there is nothing wrong with being proud of their appearance. Claire, my almost four-year-old, loves to take selfies, and I can guarantee you that kid has zero self-esteem issues. She’ll tell you within five minutes of meeting you that she’s beautiful, the best dancer, amazing, and your best friend – and by that she means the best of the friends you have. I sincerely hope that confidence never goes away, and I’ll do my damnedest to make sure it doesn’t. Even if that means she takes selfies every day from now until she’s almost twenty-four.
And that’s really my biggest issue with the Jezebel article, that underlying notion that girls and women can’t appreciate their own beauty and that they’d only put it on display for the satisfaction of others. Yes, society often tells woman their most important features are physical, but girls being proud of their physical features doesn’t necessarily mean they consider them most important. Also the fact that it only addresses females and selfies. Dudes be snapping selfies like crazy, too. I can’t scroll through my newsfeed without seeing my younger cousins or college friends who have yet to make that jump to the almost-adult world3 in clearly posed selfies at the gym or a hipster indie band show. Don’t act like you didn’t just take twenty pictures in an effort to find the one that best highlights your burgeoning two-pack or had the best lighting for your Movember growth.
It’s assumed all young girls have low self-esteem so anything they do to highlight themselves is attention seeking; where as young boys are thought to be overconfident and cocky and in no need of assurance. It’s an unfair societal assumption placed on everyone and I think it’s pretty easy to solve: males and females can have all range of confidence. Heck people, Sam Claflin – that dude playing Finnick – confessed he has some pretty serious body dysmorphic issues going on.
So in conclusion: the selfie is simply a tool, much like a carefully worded tweet, used to communicate in our technology driven world. It can be used in numerous ways and it’s pointless to argue it has a single purpose. Don’t assume only women have self-esteem issues, dudes need love and acceptance, too.
Seriously, get some Windex! And wipe up that hair! You’re making my eye twitch. ↩
Because that’s a thing in our society, people arguing about whether or not other people taking pictures of themselves is empowering or degrading. I don’t mean to be sanctimonious, but I’m going to be: privilege. ↩
Not saying adults don’t do selfies, just that most of my kind-of-grown-up male friends’ selfies include kids and business suits. ↩
Fonts Used: Pacific Northwest | String | Saint Agnes Resources: Digital Washi Tape | Arrow Brushes
I’ve always loved Pendleton’s blankets, seriously the softest around. The Eco-Wise line is earth friendly and they’re machine washable! Luxury and convenience is a big thumbs-up in my book1.
I was obsessed with rain boots when I was a kid, especially Wellingtons. I just loved how warm and toasty they kept my feet even when I was splashing in puddles inches deep. Remember that movie with Sandra Bullock and that dude who was a dick in Wedding Crashers but has gone on to have some really cool roles? Bradley Cooper, IMDB yet again reminds me that I’m losing my mind and there’s no excuse for forgetting his name because I love him in the Hangover movies and Silver Linings Playbook. Anyways, this whole digression has a point. Cooper and Bullock made a movie together, All About Steve, that probably no one really remembers because it was kind of a so-so romantic comedy, but I love Bullock so I’ve seen it like a dozen times and there’s a line her character has when addressing why she wears these red boots all of the time that I totally use when people ask me about my Wellies2:
Because it makes my toes feel like 10 friends on a camping trip, that’s why.
Bam! If for no other reason than that, everyone should own Wellies, especially Hunter boots, for blustery fall days. The Welly socks just intensify the happy toes effect.
There is nothing like a slightly oversized, crazy soft sweater to snuggle up in when the weather starts to turn cold. I can’t even begin to describe how much I love J. Crew’s boyfriend sweaters, but it’s totally necessary to have them in a few (totally gorgeous) colors!
I know I wasn’t the only one waiting with bated breath for the second installment of the most perfect neutral eyeshadow palette ever3. I’m a huge fan of wearing pretty but understated makeup and the Naked2 palette, with it’s gorg taupes and greiges4, is perfect for day and night looks.
Yes, I am addicted to Julep, but their formula is great and I love their colors. Lola and Autumn are both so great, and I totally fell in love with this mani posted on Julep’s Instagram of Autumn over Lola with a matte finish. May or may not have worn this for the last two weeks straight. This is a judgment free zone.
What fall favorites are you enjoying at this time of year?
I should totes write a book. I should also not say “totes”, book writers aren’t supposed to talk nonsense. They’re also supposed to know words, like “author”… ↩
Don’t ask me about my run-on sentences, I have no excuse for them. ↩
Who doesn’t love greige? It’s pretty much the best thing ever and I don’t even know how the world existed before it was a thing. Is this how people felt about the color avocado and macrame in the ’70s? ↩
So I made blogging more often a goal for this month and then kind of disappeared for a week or so. I was hoping participating in Byte Sized’s Blogember Blogging Challenge would offer more motivation/ideas to blog, but when life kind of overwhelms you out of nowhere I guess blogging isn’t going to happen with or without a challenge.
I’m hoping things start to level out around here and there won’t be these weeks where I’m just swallowed whole by errands and such, but with Andrew still working in northern Virginia and the kids and I in Charlottesville it’s kind of hard to hold down the fort on my own and not lose it occasionally. Just waiting for Andrew to complete his work transition so he’ll be here with us all the time and not just on the weekends. Having a second parent to wrangle kiddos and unload the dishwasher and even just run out to the store for milk is a luxury I definitely took for granted. Especially now that the weeks are full of Logan’s special education and Claire’s new dance class and possible foray into ice skating (we’re trying it out at the local ice rink, it’s a cool little place), not to mention that four-month-old (!!!1) who’s constantly drooling on me and being crazy adorable.
Speaking of Logan’s special education, he now rides the school bus to and from his speech therapy on Mondays and Wednesdays and his Structured Special Education Playgroup on Tuesdays. He also sees his special education educator on Wednesdays and Fridays. It’s nice to have finally settled into a routine with Logan’s services, even though when we moved to Charlottesville we were hit with the harsh fact that they do not have the same resources as northern Virginia and Logan wouldn’t be able to start special education preschool this year. That’s okay, I’ve made sure he’s getting quite a bit and he seems to be continuing to make progress. He now signs “please” and offers a sign approximation with his word approximation of “thank you”. He does seem to have lost some words again – he no longer uses or repeats the words “uh oh”, “dada”, or the sign “more” – but that’s been his pattern and at least he’s adding new ones to replace the ones he’s lost. There have been times he’s gone from five to six words back to absolutely none, and those times were heartbreaking and frustrating. We’re still waiting to get an evaluation with Kluge, but despite referrals from his neurologist, pediatrician, and Early Intervention, it’s been months of pulling teeth to try to get him in. I finally received a call that they were going to be scheduling a developmental pediatrician appointment for him, which should be the first step, so here’s hoping for progress!
I can’t believe Claire is almost four-years-old, it seriously feels like just a few months ago Andrew and I found out we were going to be parents. Now here we are with three. I love how Claire’s personality is just blossoming. She loves to talk, loudly and incessantly, and is obsessed with glitter, yoga pants, and painting her nails. She’s like my little clone, that looks exactly like her father. Julia is growing like a weed and won’t stop eating or yelling at me. The teething is strong in this one, as our those fat little legs. She loves to stand and often refuses to sit, let alone recline. Lately her favorite thing ever is to stand on her own leaned against the furniture. Pretty sure that little slice of cute is going to be pulling up and cruising, and then I’ll have to actually bother to baby proof. Hey, the other two lived so I can’t be too shabby at this whole parenting thing.
What, four months?! When did that happen? ↩
Share your favorite family recipe for the Thanksgiving holiday.
By far my absolute favorite Thanksgiving dish is corn pudding. It is the perfect blend of sweet and salty, and plus it has plenty of cheese!
1 can creamed corn (14.5 oz)
1 can whole kernel corn (14.5 oz)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup (stick) of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 block Colby cheese (32 oz), grated and separated
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Combine both cans of corn with eggs and butter in a larg mixing bowl.
- Stir in sugar then flour until well combined.
- Add 1/4 cup of grated Colby cheese to corn mixture, set the rest aside.
- Lightly grease a 9×9 baking dish with cooking spray and pour in corn mixture.
- Top with remaining Colby cheese.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for thirty minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbling.
- Eat yummy, gooey, deliciousness!
Seriously, this is my favorite holiday dish and occasionally when I’m not being lazy I like to whip it up for regular dinner. Enjoy!
Remember, remember the 5th of November… in your own words why do you think this day should be remembered?
In America I don’t see how the 5th of November has any cultural significance, except for the fact that Election Day occasionally falls on it. In Britain it is a day to remember that time a group of Catholics tried to assassinate the monarch and House of Lords but were thwarted. For centuries it was celebrated by lighting bonfires, burning effigies of Guy Fawkes, and railing against Catholics.
These days it’s mostly a patriotic holiday, but some are completely confused as to who Guy Fawkes was and the history behind the 5th of November. I know the comic book and subsequent (awesome) movie, V for Vendetta, make it seem like Guy Fawkes was just a guy trying to fight back against a repressive religious monarchy, but that’s not entirely true. Fawkes was a part of the Gunpowder Plot, a scheme organized by Catholics in their attempts to revolt against the Protestant monarchy and in turn install their own Catholic monarch. So basically they didn’t just want religious freedom, they wanted things to be like Spain, and like England used to be, where Catholics were given preferential treatment and other religions had no rights. Not exactly the Robin Hood-esque character crusading for personal freedoms many make him out to be, but our society has a tendency to romanticize anti-social historical figures.