Friday, December 19, 2014

christmas card roundup

You pretty much saw my Christmas card (proudly displayed on my own piano!) during my house tour last week, but I figured I better share it "officially" for good measure. We used Costco for our cards (we also used them for our birth announcements) and they did a great job. Actually, they messed up the order the first time (gave us the correct number of envelopes but shorted us a set of 25 cards...), but as soon as I let them know, they re-sent the entire (correct) (and ENTIRE, sooo...we had WAY more cards than we needed) order immediately. So...high five for prompt problem-solving, Costco!

Wow. The mustard yellow throw pillow I chose to set the card on to photograph it REALLY does a lot for it, right? That nice glow? Special. 

Anyway. I love the card and especially love that Costco prints your return address on the envelopes for you, saving my poor hand a lot of writing (or stamping, actually).

Back in 2011 I would update my "Christmas card stats" at the bottom of (some of) my December posts. I had fun keeping tabs (and now it's fun to compare this year's cards), so I figured I'd assess the cards we've received so far this year.

The door looks a lot happier than last week! Also, does it drive you crazy that I just stick the cards up there all willy-nilly and not in lines or rows? I like it, but I feel like it would cause some folks to lose sleep at night. All the uptight people. ;) But trying to put them in lines/rows would drive ME crazy because I want to put them up as they arrive...and how could I know how many I'll ultimately receive to accurately judge how to space them? How to account for horizontal/vertical orientations? See, that would be worse. WILLY-NILLY IT IS.

So far we have a total of 22 cards.

Number of Non-Photo Cards: 4
Number of Photo Cards: 18

Of the 18 photo cards...
Number of collage cards: 10 (So this is apparently a big thing now! I swear in previous years collage cards were NOT this prevalent! All you indecisive people...)
Number of cards from blog friends (that I would not/did not know outside of blogging): 10 (Matt really loves opening cards from strangers and seeing them displayed all the time!)
Number of cards with pets: 2 (Poor pets.)
Number of cards from people named Amanda: 4 (this is Matt's favorite joke- every time a new card comes: IS IT FROM AMANDA?!??!!)
Number of cards from Georgia: 6
Card hailing from furthest away: Northglenn, Colorado (1,447 miles). I am actually shocked- I had already written down Ontario, Canada...but then consulted Google Maps and discovered that Ontario is actually CLOSER than Northglenn by about 500 miles! Who knew? I need to go to work, so that's all the fascinating statistics I have time for. If you're bored, feel free to assess your own cards! Fun for all (nerds)!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


I have a pretty intense case of writer's block this week, it seems. But I'm about due for a fresh episode of currently, time like the present! (I just looked back and my last 'currently' post was while I was on maternity leave. Waaaahhhhh look at tiny baby Millie!!!)

For the record, it is 9:00 p.m. on a Wednesday night... the washer going through a spin cycle. It's diaper washing night, so it's a sound I get to hear a lot. I've been pleasantly surprised with how manageable cloth diapering has been, though, since returning to work. I had worried that it might become overwhelming or hard to keep up with, but luckily that hasn't been the case at all! Yay for saving those dolla billz, yo.

Eating...nothing, but I'll probably hit the fridge for some leftover birthday cake any minute now. Matt got me a Spanish lemon cake from my favorite bakery...and it's a cake suited for about 20 folks...and there's just two of us, do the math. (Sorry, thighs!!)

Drinking...water. ALWAYS WATER. I'm about to complete my 18th consecutive day of drinking a gallon a day and I'm finally getting used to it. And I haven't seen any miraculous changes in my body whatsoever, so...I'm really not sure what the point is, besides doing it to say I can do it. I'll keep up with it for the rest of the month (because that's what I said I was gonna do, dangit), but after that I may scale back to a more natural amount. I think I could easily do 96 oz a day. I drink four 32oz bottles per day to get to the gallon...the first three are pretty easy. And then it's 10:23 p.m. and I'm staring down half a bottle and chugging it so that I can just freaking go to bed. 

Wearing...sweats and an old sweatshirt. Not matching, though. And lipstick! I just got some new lipsticks (or..."lip lustre creme," as the case may be) tonight for my birthday, so I needed to try them out.

Feeling...happy. We've started going on walks in the evenings after dinner (gotta get my steps in to appease the Fitbit, ya know...) and it makes me so happy. It's freezing cold (well, by my pansy Georgia standards) and dark, but we bundle up and make a family event out of it. Millie loves cuddling in the Ergo and looking at the lights, while Lola just loses her mind every time we spring her out of jail the house, so it's really fun for all.

Post-walk photo shoot tonight...can you spy a baby?

There she is!!

Weather...cold and windy. 41 degrees (but feels like 35, according to the Weather Channel!) and 82%, how is that even possible? But it's been really great weather this does get cold in the mornings and evenings, but gets up into the low 60s during the day...and I really can't complain. reread the Harry Potter books. Working my way through the movies now has me wanting to go back and read from the beginning...slowly, this time. Last time I just rushed through, so anxious to get to the end and see what happened. Now I can really absorb. I've been debating whether to ask for the paperbacks or Kindle editions of all of the books for Christmas...I'm leaning towards Kindle, just because it would be so much easier to have them with me all the time to capitalize on using down time for reading? But Kindle books are so unshareable...wah.

Needing...ummm...someone to clean my floors? Someone that isn't me, I should add. I've never been very good at mopping with any sort of regularity...and normally I'm happy to just live in my filth, but it just occurred to me that Millie will probably start crawling at some point, and suddenly I'm disgusted at the thought of her on my (swept and vacuumed, but not exactly mopped) floors. But I really don't have time for mopping. Or a strong enough back. Or the desire. So I think I'm going to outsource it when I write the 2015 budget. That's the dream, anyway.

Thinking...about when I'm ever going to do my Christmas shopping. I'm WAY slack on that this year. Other than a few random things I ordered from Etsy shops and, well, no. That's it. I haven't so much as stepped into Target or the mall. I've gone to a few shops downtown on my lunch break. I have no idea what I'm even getting like half the people I need to buy for. Waaaaah. I just wanna cuddle my baby, I don't want to spend my free time shopppppinnnnnggggg!!!! 

Enjoying...everything about life right now. I can't remember a period of life where I was ever so blissfully happy for so long. I know that hard times will come again, but I'm completely happy to just soak in this joy while it's here. Last night I walked through the house and saw my sweet dog resting on the couch by the Christmas tree (against the rules, but whatever) and heard Matt and Millie laughing and playing in the bathtub, and I just couldn't even deal with it. My heart is so full.

Monday, December 15, 2014

birthday weekend shenanigans

I had a fabulous birthday weekend!! It was definitely the best birthday ever, thanks in no small part to a cute baby, a handsome husband, and my awesome parents!

My lame immune system tried to bring me down on my big day with a surprise staph infection in my knee. I think my body is trying hard to conspire against me on birthdays; last year I herniated a disc in my back a few days before my birthday...and now this?? Luckily I caught it early and snagged a doctor's appointment right in the nick of time so that I could get started on antibiotics. I really did not want a repeat of 2011's needle-in-the-face-MRSA episode. And I don't suggest clicking that link and reading my gory (but picture-less; I'm not THAT nasty) tale if you are feeling weak in the stomach. You've been warned.

Anyway. I wasn't about to let this little (large) bump in the road (knee) ruin my day...actually, getting to start some antibiotics that must be taken every six hours with food is actually kind of a BONUS on a birthday weekend! A requirement to eat every six hours (mostly not coinciding with meals)? Don't mind if I do! Matt and my parents were more than happy to help me find delicious ways to meet that requirement.

The weather was incredible this weekend, so I'd like to thank Georgia for really doing me a solid there. Your generosity has been noted and appreciated. Having a December birthday means I don't generally expect to spend a lot of time outside on my day, but this year I was more than happy to welcome a change! We spent most of Saturday taking nice walks/'hikes' (slow hikes, 32-year-old-broken-knee permitting) at a variety of pretty Athens parks.

Millie seemed to enjoy getting to spend the day outside...and Parents of the Year seemed to once again forget that babies can get sunburned even when it's not hot outside. Oops. Her cheeks are just extra rosy now...

We spent some time checking out the State Botanical Gardens, which is where Matt and I got married. We walked over to the Day Chapel to show Millie where all the magic happened. There was another wedding taking place, so we couldn't get close, but I'm pretty sure she was really impressed.

This is my impressed face.
 We finished off Saturday night with a visit to our town's Christmas festival and (another) walk downtown to see the lights. Part of the reason I was so gung-ho about walking all day was that I got a Fitbit* for my birthday (woooooo!!!!!) and I was extremely concerned that it would immediately reveal how slothful I've I tried hard to get a lot of steps in. And it worked! Now I have to figure out how to do the same thing on the days I'm stuck in my office for 8 hours...and the weather isn't fabulous...

Anyway, after one last walk, we settled in for a junk food dinner and a Christmas movie on Netflix. My parents like their movies, I think that if marrying TV channels was possible, my dad would probably marry the Hallmark Channel. And probably take on Lifetime as a sister-wife. So it was really lucky that Netflix has a ton of ABC Family original Christmas movies right now, ha.

The weather was perfect again on Sunday, so after my parents headed back home, we set out for another walk. We just started putting Millie forward-facing in the K'tan. I think she likes it...although I can't know for sure, cause I can't really see her. But Matt says she seems happy.

I definitely still prefer wearing her inward-facing in the Ergo, but it's nice to have another option, I suppose. It doubles as entertainment for us, though, because she looks like a giant floating head.

Emphasis on giant. I'm fairly certain her face is bigger than mine. THOSE CHEEKS.

The only way to see her face was if I flipped around the camera on the phone. Drooling and looking slightly concerned? That's about normal, so we'll say she was happy.

We also added two very special ornaments to the tree on Saturday!

The wooden ornament is something I ordered from a wooden toy Etsy shop called Little Sapling Toys. I love it!! I also ordered another little toy from them that Millie will be getting for Christmas. I can't say what it is because what if she reads my blog?? (She's super smart, duh.) (And has refined taste in reading.) The 'adoption is a miracle' ornament is a gift from Melissa! I cried when I saw it. It has Camilla's name in the heart on the left and 2014 in the heart on the right. I just love each new addition to our tree that reminds me of our great joy.

It was the perfect birthday weekend. I wish it could have lasted about twenty times longer, but is Monday again. And nearly Christmas! Which probably means it's about time to start my shopping...yikes. Ummm...what do you buy for men in their 60s who don't need anything? I pretty much just want to choose some random hobby or interest to inflict on them so that I'll have a permanent source of gift ideas for the next decade...would that be wrong? Ha. Happy Monday!

*Amazon affiliate link

Friday, December 12, 2014

christmas tour 2014

I feel like there's no better way to celebrate my birthday than by showing off my truly underwhelming Christmas decorations. (That birthday thing was subtle, right? Ha.) (Also, not remotely true. I can think of a million better the top of my head: at a resort in the Caribbean, receiving a pet manatee, cuddling with my baby, and/or an all-expenses-paid shopping spree at Ulta.) (At least one of my dreams will come true today...)

Right, so, back to the topic at hand. Christmas decorations!! I always look forward to having the house decorated for Christmas, and this year was no exception. Now that we have Millie, everything is a first...and even though she's only four months old and probably couldn't care less about home decor (except for maybe the tree lights), it still felt a million times more special and exciting and magical decorating with her here. And when I think back to how hard the Christmas season was last year, how putting up our decorations made me, the joy and happiness of this year is even better. 

A lot of my decor stays pretty consistent from year to do my complaints, ha. Like there is STILL NO GOOD PLACE FOR A CHRISTMAS TREE. Every year. Every year. Every year I swear that if and when we ever buy another house, "good Christmas tree spot" is going to be at the TOP of the priority list. Don't nobody care if there are enough bedrooms for everyone or whether there are active termite colonies...I need a decent place for my tree!!! 

But let's start with something I do like: the mantel!! 

 I've already blabbed at length about our three stockings, so I won't repeat myself except to say ohmygoshwehaveTHREESTOCKINGS!!!!! The whole mantel area ended up looking a lot different this year than last year- a little simpler, I guess. Oh, also there are three stockings (plus Lola's). Vast improvement. I saw the idea for making blank canvases into 'presents' on Pinterest; it was the easiest three-second craft ever! I think they look fun. And although I loved having the big balls hanging last year, I really like having them up on the mantel and down in a basket- they are just so festive! Also, they are big balls...and the jokes never get old. 

To the right of the mantel area is a little chest that holds random junk important things.

It makes a perfect spot to put the nativity set. This year we have this little felt Jesse Tree thing that we make and add an ornament to each night. There's a little guide and we read the Bible story that accompanies the ornament, then we help Millie velcro the ornament to the tree. It's fun and I'm sure she's really getting a lot out of it. :) And it gives Matt and me a great opportunity to work on our gluing and coloring skills, so really, everybody wins.

My nativity used to belong to my grandparents. My Nana bought it on a trip to Israel and I am so thankful to have received it. The angel ornament was hand-crafted by yours truly in 1990. I gave it to Nana as a gift and she always kept it with the nativity- so now I do, too! Gotta remember my DIY roots, ya know...

So, back to the tree that has no good home and is impossible to photograph. Part of the 'impossible to photograph' problem is the placement of the tree (couches/walls/pianos impede being able to get a full-length shot), part of it is because despite the existence of probably 28903 tutorials on How to Set Your Camera to Get the Perfect Christmas Tree Picture...I just can't be bothered to actually read any of them, so my pictures all come out looking like crap. The lights are either washed out and invisible, or everything is too dark, or...whatever. Just know that the tree looks way more awesome in person. Even though it's in a bad spot.

We've been using beads on the tree since 2006, but on an 80% off, post-Christmas whim last year, I bought a couple strands of giaaaaant gold tinsel.

I regret nothing.

That tinsel was SO much easier to put up than a million strands of itty bitty beads- it seriously took about 2 seconds. And it's so festive and gaudy and delightful!! I only wish I'd bought about two more strands- I had to stretch things a little thin to make it get to the bottom. I'll be on the lookout for a couple more strands after Christmas ends this year! And now our gold tinsel totally contrasts with our silver sparkly star, but mixing your metals is a thing now, right? So we're good.

I love this ornament that my friend Catherine made last year- it's our house!

A lovely reminder of my brief fling with wood burning.

I didn't do much with the piano this year. I'm too lazy to un-decorate all the normal stuff, so I just added a few touches and called it a day (season?).

My beloved book trees...a few of them bit the dust in their storage containers over the last year, but this guy survived another year.

Totally normal to display your own Christmas card, right? Right.

 I have yet to find a satisfactory way to display my cards. I feel like I try something different every year and so far, nothing's been perfect. I'm really phoning it in this year- taping them up on the door. Wow. Special. And the tape will probably pull the paint off the doors when I take the cards down, so that will be a fun problem to tackle in January! Also, I took this picture last weekend, when we'd only received cards from the earliest birds. There are more now...taped up with equal precision and care, obviously.

My Christmas tree craft from a few years ago is on a bookshelf...I think they're so cute, plus they remind me of the 11,000 hours it took me to sew them. I'm such a gifted seamstress...

My decorating skillz didn't spill over to the rest of the house much this year. Normally I'll do a little something in the bedroom, kitchen, and bathrooms, but this year...naaaah. I found some older than dirt tinsel and draped it around Millie's changing table area and that's about it. Maybe when she's older we'll put a little tree in there or something, but for now...I mean, I feel like I just finished decorating her nursery for regular life about two seconds ago. It's cute enough. It needs no more sparkle or glitz to make it through the month. Ha.

Wanna know how old that tinsel is? Okay then. My roommate and I bought it to decorate our FRESHMAN DORM ROOM. Yeah. In 2001. This trusty tinsel has stood the test of time!

Oh! There is one more thing! My favorite picture frame door art came back to the front door for season 3!

I made a tutorial for this, too!
That's pretty much it for Christmas 2014. Nothing too spectacular, but enough sparkle and shininess to make the house feel festive and fun! I'm trying to enjoy the decorations a little extra this year- next year we'll have a one-year-old, and I hear they're notorious for destroying everything, so we'll probably have to do an amended version of decorating. But that's okay. I'll take sweet Millie over red and green whatever anytime.

Have a wonderful weekend! If you're extra bored, feel free to check out my Christmas decor tours from 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010. (Actually, I just looked at 2010 and it was pretty awful. I can pretty much guarantee you're not bored enough to want to see that, unless you want to see a progression in my Mantel Decorating Skills...because they REALLY sucked back then!!)