Month: December 2013



(Luna posing for a holiday photo op: by Ryan)

It’s the last weekend before Christmas, and also my busiest time of year. Though I’ve crossed off several things off my must-do-before-Christmas list this week, it still seems like I’ve got an endless amount to go. I’m making a point this weekend to spend some time (or at least a couple hours) relaxing, getting in one last batch of cookies, and watching a heart-warming Christmas movie. I’m determined I can make this weekend the most productive, yet relaxing one of the holiday season. Hope you have a great weekend.

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(Making and mailing out my annual Christmas cards)

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(A rainy day through the car window at the stables)

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(A plate full of goodies at Irregardless Cafe – If only every breakfast came with a tray of fresh bread and OJ)


(Festive new additions to my bar cart, thanks to Ryan + his secret santa)


Winter To-Do List


The first couple weeks of winter are easily my favorite days of the year. The season starts off strong with Christmas and New Years, but then seems to drag on forever as the weather gets colder, days grow shorter, and it seems like there’s nothing to do but stay stuck inside. This winter, I refuse to fall into my typical hibernation rut, and am committing to make it a time to try new things and check more off my to do list. The first day of winter is this weekend, so I’m getting a head start on compiling some activities that will make my cold winter days a little less dreary.

1. Build a gingerbread house (and eat way too many of the trimmings)

2. Tour the town just to view Christmas lights – and visit an animated house of lights

3. Paint a creative wall somewhere in my house

4. Sign up for a volunteer organization

5. Read several good books – particularly romance mysteries

6. Experiment with different types of homemade popcorn (like cinnamon and caramel) for snuggling up and movie watching

7. Hang a picture gallery wall in my living room (like this and this)

8. Make my house smell warm and delicious by baking lots of bread, donuts, and bagels from scratch

9. Take photography lessons – even if they are just from my sister or Ryan

10. See snow (travel may be required)


Images via Pinterest: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Peppermint Bark

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I’ve already mentioned that Christmas is all about nostalgia for me – but nothing brings back the taste of wintertime more than my mom’s homemade peppermint bark. I remember being young watching her make it, bag it up for us to give out, or bring to every family reunion. I would always eat one piece too many and wind up with a belly ache at our Christmas parties, but it was never enough to deter me from loving it. It’s the perfect mint to chocolate ratio, and embodies everything a winter candy/snack (sometimes meal) should. Although I don’t have my mom’s exact recipe, this one served as a good substitute to bring back my memories of childhood at Christmastime.

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Currently Loving: Fireside Cozies


Once the temperatures start dropping, the most important thing is knowing I can come home after a long day, and slip into something warm and cozy. Sometimes the most inviting option is a pair of broken in sweats and a tee, but these choices are just as cozy, and prevent looking like a collage student who rolled out of bed late for class. Now all that’s missing is a cup of hot cocoa, a captivating book, and a cracking fire place to make for a perfectly snuggled-up winter’s night.

1. Fair Isle Snood ($74)

2. J.Crew Cashmere Sweat-pant ($298)

3. PJ Salvage Thermal Sleep Shirt ($48)

4. Snowflake Slipper Boots ($39)

5. Sherpa Collar Open Jacket (79.50)

6. Eberjey Sleep Shirt ($82)

7. Lodge Moccasins ($49.50)

8. J.Crew Fair Isle Leggings ($98)

9. J.Crew Flannel Robe ($88)

10. Pom Pom Lounge Slippers ($24)

Weekend Rewind: Winter Stay-cation


This past weekend was my family’s second winter stay-cation. I headed home Friday night (with enough luggage to last me all winter), and was immediately welcomed and comforted by a warm, crackling fire and Christmas music playing in the background. Although the majority of our set plans for the weekend involved eating, I was still looking forward to the spontaneous activities we would find to do along the way. However, we weren’t prepared for one unplanned activity – having to call the rescue squad on my dad. Luckily, it was a false alarm and turned out to be nothing too serious or life-threatening, but in those brief moments that seemed to last an eternity waiting for answers, all I could think was that I was so incredibly thankful to be gathered with my family. The rest of the stay-cation went on, and I think the event that happened on Saturday morning made us all a little bit more grateful to be spending time together and made the weekend that much more special. It goes to show that not everything in life can be planned out and executed perfectly, but it’s about noticing the love and comfort that surrounds us in little moments. Here’s a few snapshots of those quiet, happy moments with my family.


(A delicious, sugary brunch at Irregardless Cafe)


(Purchasing a plus-size Christmas tree from a relative’s tree farm – just in time before the rain started)


(My dad making his recovery and cooking us Pasta Fagioli – an Italian family favorite)


(Celebrating National Cupcake Day)

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(Sugar overload at Heron’s brunch – pecan cranberry french toast + warm donuts)christmasornaments

 (Beautiful Christmas decor at Heron’s + a sneak peak of my Christmas table)


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(An impromptu carousel ride from last year’s stay-cation)

I leave this evening for my parents’ house to have our second (hopefully annual) “stay-cation”. It was a concept my mom introduced to our family last December where the four of us spend a weekend at my parents’, explore things in our hometown we’ve never made the time to do, eat entirely too much (but amazing) food, and enjoy time by the fire playing games and decorating the house for Christmas. I’m looking forward to relaxing this weekend, buying an oversized tree for our living room, and spending some much needed quality time with my family. It will serve as a good re-charge before my busiest week of the year at work, and as a nice preview of going home for Christmas in a couple of weeks.

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(Essentials to be packed for this weekend away)

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(“Playing” Taste Test of Caramels with Ryan)

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(Ryan + tree lights)


(Making time this week to complete a couple of long awaited house hold projects: hanging up photos + a home for my favorite accessories)

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(Documentation of Miss Luna Lee’s first Christmas season – photo by Ry)


(Rustic and simple holiday decor)

Christmas Wrapping


While it’s tradition for my sister and I to stay up late into the night on Christmas Eve wrapping presents together, I’ve found its important to do a test run in advance to make sure I’ve got everything together to get just the look I want for my packages. Last year, I chose to wrap everything in brown paper, tied up with simple red ribbon. I loved the look so much, but I wanted to do something a little bit more rustic with added textures and dimension this year. Here’s a bit of what I came up with, and how you can do it yourself at home.


Wrap gift in brown paper. Measure distance around box one time, then cut out a panel of accent wrapping paper that length. Choose width of panel based on how much brown paper you want to show on the sides (wide for less brown, narrow for more). Cut a half an inch extra on each side of paper. Fold and tape this half inch on each long side under so that you have a nice clean edge on panel. Wrap accent paper around gift, making ends meet and tape together on bottom of package.


Gather festive wrapping accents: I found it was best go grab unexpected elements – ones that brought lots of texture and excitement to the package (all staying with in a rustic, natural feel). Cut out small rectangles from coordinating card stock paper for homemade gift tags.


Combine all together for a festive, rustic wrapping that is simple, yet a far cry away from basic brown.