Posts tagged holiday

Decking the Halls

This is our first holiday season in our new house and I am beyond thrilled about it!  We never had much space to decorate in our townhouse because our main living area functioned as our living room, media room, play room and entertaining space.  It was jam-packed with furniture which left little room for holiday decor, though we did manage to squeeze a real live tree in there every year!

Anyway, with a whole house to decorate this year, I was in my glory.   I tried not to go overboard in hopes to keep it simple and not break the bank.  I am beyond happy with how it has all turned out.  It’s cheery, bright, and most importantly, kid friendly!  It all feels so festive and celebrating the holidays feels extra special this year.

Here is a glimpse into our home all decked out for the holidays.

These oversized ornaments are hanging in our bow window in the living room.

And here is our mantel all dressed up.

After some hesitation, I bit the bullet on the Potter Barn embroidered stockings.  They were offering free embroidery and shipping so I couldn’t resist.  They first ones they sent I had to send back because the stitching was horrible and one of the stockings had a different color thread.  I’m very happy with them now, the second time around.

My favorite part of the mantel is the little gold light up trees that I found at the Christmas Tree Shop for $2.99 each.  They’re so simple yet so pretty.

And last, but certainly not least, is our tree!

We’ve started a new family tradition of cutting down our own at a tree farm.  I’ve had a real tree all my life and I vow to never have an artificial one.  Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without the smell of a fresh tree in the house and tiny pine needles all over the place!  I really love our tree this year.  It stands high, goes right up to the ceiling and is just a beauty.  It’s full of white lights and colorful ornaments.  There is no theme to it.  The ornaments are all shapes and sizes, some home made and some store bought.  The girls helped us decorate it and I like them to feel like it’s their tree too, not just a decoration.

I’d love to see (or hear) how you’ve decorated hour home for the holidays.  Do you have any special traditions in decorating?  Do you prefer a real or artificial tree?

Holiday Gift Giving, Part 3

This post is coming to you a bit after the fact.  You see, I’ve already purchased all of my girls’ Christmas presents (and damn does it feel good!).  But, I will still share with you what will be under the tree this year for my four year old.  I admit, I went a bit overboard.  It was just too easy!  In case you missed the previous posts, my girls will be getting some joint gifts this year and Nora will also be getting her own loot.  Oh and did I mention that I’m DONE shopping for them?!

Anyway, without further ado, here is what Brinley will be getting this year…

First, and really the only thing she has asked for, the Leapster Exploerer

I had been scouring the Black Friday ad leaks for weeks hoping for a good deal on this.  The retail price is $69.99.  I’m always hunting for bargains but since this is the first year of the Leaspter Explorer I figured there was a slim chance I’d get a fantastic price.  I also wanted the pink one but its a Toys R Us or exclusive.  I ended up buying the green one on Black Friday because Target had a $10 off coupon in their flyer and I had the $10 off coupon from specially marked boxes of Cheerios.  So, I got it for $49.99 which I think was pretty good.  I’m also really glad that I didn’t wait because it’s now out of stock almost everywhere!  There are so many accessories and games that go along with this but I tried to be good and only bought her 3 games – Disney’s Tangled, Disney Princesses, and Ni Hao Ki-lan.  Hopefully those will keep her busy for a while.

I also got her a few games.  Elefun, which she has played at a friends house and loved (and I think it’s fun too), Don’t Spill the Beans, which I remember from my childhood, and Hi Ho Cherry-O.

Next I got her a Spriograph.  Remember these?  It’s that drawing thing where you have the little gears and you put a pen in it and spin it around and make cool designs.  Brinley LOVES to draw and I know she’ll get a kick out of this if she can get the hang of it.  If not, I’m sure I’ll have fun with it!

I honestly can’t even remember what else I bought.  It’s hidden away for now until I wrap it.  I did get each of the girls one of those Sing-a-Ma-Jig things.  At first I thought they were a little scary but after playing with one in the store for a few minutes it started to grow on me.  And Kohl’s had them on super sale on Black Friday.  So I picked up two.

Well, there you have it folks.  I’m sure I left something out but you get the general idea.  My girls are a bit spoiled but we don’t really buy for anyone else so it’s not so bad.  And since we just got a new furnace, humidifier, air purifier and central air coil installed last month, Scott and I certainly won’t be exchanging gifts this year. (But my birthday is on December 23rd and I better be getting something for that!  What?  I AM turning 30!)

Holiday Gift Giving, Part 2

In addition to some joint gifts, my girls will each be getting gifts of their own this Christmas.  Though I am almost positive that they’ll end up playing with each others toys regardless of how age inappropriate they may be.  Case in point: Nora loves to play with Brinley’s LeapFrog Scribble and Write even though she doesn’t know the right way to use it and Brinley is equally excited to play with the shape sorter and ball popper even though she’s four.  Anyway, I digress…

It’s a little difficult to figure out what to get Nora for Christmas this year.  We’ve already got most of the toys that kids her age play with because we had them for Brinley.  Sure, they’re hand-me-downs in a sense but it doesn’t bother her (thankfully).  However, Nora is interested in a lot of things that Brinley never liked.  You see, Brinley was (and mostly still is) a very passive player.  At Nora’s age, Brinley enjoyed books, puzzles, coloring and flash cards (I kid you not!).  Nora, on the other hand, prefers to throw, break and destroy said things.  She’d much rather be climbing, running, dancing and generally causing trouble.  So, in that sense, there are many things that she’ll like that Brinley never had.

Here is a list of some of the things that I think we’ll be getting Nora for Christmas..

First is the Playskool Sit N’ Spin

The funny thing about this toy is that we had one for Brinley (it was handed down to us from a friend) and she never could figure out how to use it.  She’d sit on it and try to her hearts content to get going, but just couldn’t manage.  It frustrated her so much that we eventually gave it away.  Nora, though, loves it.  There’s one at the playgroup we attend and she got on it one day and started spinning and spinning.  I was so amazed that she was able to figure it out so fast.  A perfect gift for her, for sure!

Next up, a ball hopper

This one has Disney Princesses on it but I may opt for a  more generic one.  Nora is not really into princesses yet, but Brinley might like it :-)  This is another one of those toys that Brinley didn’t care for that I know Nora will like.  She loves to bounce and jump and even if her little legs won’t quite reach the ground yet I know she’ll love for me to bounce her on it.

Then comes the toy vacuum

Nora loves to mimic what I am doing.  She’s always grabbing the broom and walking around saying “dirty, dirty”.  She loves to sweep and wipe up messes which is nice since she’s so great at making messes!  I think she’d get a kick out of having a vacuum just her size.  I haven’t decided if I want to get one of the working toy ones or not.  I’m torn between thinking it would be helpful and thinking it’s child labor :-)

And finally, the Fisher-Price Classic Record Player

This gift might be more for me than her :-)  I had one of these when I was little and I remember playing with it all the time.  I loved it!  I think it will be so cool  to see my girls playing with it.  Ah, nostalgia!

That about wraps it up.  I’m sure there will be some other little trinkets and stocking stuffers (and gasp! clothes) thrown in but those are the “big” things.  Stay tuned for Brinley’s list in the next week or so.  What will you be getting your 18ish month old for Christmas this year?

Holiday Card Crazy

My husband thinks I’m crazy because about two weeks ago I was already online mocking up our photo Christmas cards.  I emailed him at work asking for his advice on designs and on which photos to include.  At first he humored me, but when I kept asking him throughout the day, I think he had had enough.  The problem is that I am a sucker for Shutterfly photo cards, especially when the holidays roll around.  I love looking at all of their new designs and trying to pick out the perfect one for our Christmas card.  With all of the new designs this year, it’s going to be really hard to choose.

Here are some of my current favorites:

1.  Oh What Fun – I love the simplicity of this card and think it looks amazing with a black and white photo.  The colors are bright and it just look so pretty.  I can imagine my two girls on this card (actually I’ve already mocked one up with them on it :-) and it looks adorable).

2.  With Love Chartreuse – I think this is my top pick right now.  It’s simple yet elegant and I love how you can use multiple photos.  It will be great to be able to include a family shot and then some solos of the kids.  This card is just so clean looking.  I love it.

3.  Jolly Gems – I love the colors in this card.  It’s so cheery and bright.  It also doesn’t scream Christmas, which I like.  Again, I like the ability to include more than one photo in the card and the design is just really pretty.

We’ve been using Shutterfly for our Christmas cards for the past three years.  We’ve also used them for Thank You cards and for prints.  I have never had a bad experience with them.  In fact, I am more impressed with their service each time we order from them.  And don’t even get me started on how much I adore their photo books!  We have at least six of them.

Right now Shutterfly is offering 20% off all holiday cards!  If you’ve never used Shutterfly, right now would be a good time to start.  Their prices, customer service, and quality are all top notch.  And if you’re anything like me, you’d better get cracking on your holiday card because it might take you a while to choose your favorite design.

I am participating in Shutterfly’s 2010 Holiday Card collection promotion where bloggers contribute a write up about Shutterfly and receive 50 free holiday cards.  To learn more, click here.

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