December 17, 2014

Where the Magic Happens

Before Christmas completely passes me by, I wanted to get pictures of our decorations this year, mostly so I will remember where to put things next year! I thought I'd start with the kitchen and dining room today.

This is our fourth Christmas in this house and I feel like it's finally coming together the way I want it to.

The decorations are a mix of handmade, vintage and happy, colorful things.

I only buy new things that I really, really love. I couldn't resist this new creamer and sugar bowl.

I can't resist dishes with eyelashes.

Or dishes with mustaches and monocles. I mean, I'm merely human.

The mug rack is sporting some new friends this season. See what I mean about the monocle? The owl mug had to come home with me. The best part is that all of these are staying out when all the rest of Christmas has been packed away.

Here's an overall shot of the kitchen side of this long narrow room. Don't be fooled by the power of photography, the cabinets are falling apart and we don't even want to talk about the 30 year old tile counters. But even so, this room makes me happy and I will patiently wait however many years it takes to get my dream kitchen.

 The view from the kitchen doorway.

 A favorite flea market find.

All of these things have been collected over the last several years. Some I've received as gifts and those are extra special to me.

More evidence of my preference for dishes with faces.

Oh my. I'm not sure I realized just how big this collection was until I starting looking at these pictures. Is there a 12 step program for people that love dishes with eyes?

This is the other side of the room. I suffer from chalkboard paralysis. I'm sure this is a real condition. I know what I want to write here and might get to it by Christmas day. Or more likely will sweet talk someone else into writing it for me. Just squint and imagine it says Be Merry. Perfect.

The mantle is one of my very favorite things this year. My guy (such a good sport) made me the N and the L, I "borrowed" the E from Emma and the O is a foam wreath that I wrapped in torn strips of fabric. I love how it turned out.

The season is slipping by so quickly. I've finished all the stressful stuff and have now officially entered the part of the season where I start letting go of things on my to do list. Another year without Christmas cards. Another year where I can't possibly make all the Christmas projects I wish I had time to make. Another year that I didn't bake for all of the neighbors. Another year that my presents aren't perfectly wrapped.

This is real life, not some magazine worthy perfect image of what Christmas should look like. This is college tuition payments, cars in the shop, hair that needs to be colored, laptop that needs to be replaced, doctors appointments, slipcovers that need to be washed, not enough time in the day, messy, lovely, reality. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

December 09, 2014

And Exhale

Where to start? Maybe you were beginning to think my last post should have been entitled A Fond Farewell to Blogging? No way. Not happening! Sometimes it's hard to carve out the time and then the longer you are away, the harder it is to know how to get back to it. Since last we visited, there have been celebrations, time with friends, crafting, decorating, tree farm visiting, holiday project building, baking, shopping, present wrapping (and stacking) and house refinancing (15 year mortgage, hooray! But also ouch! But eventually worth it!).

I feel like today is the first day of the Christmas season for me. I started decorating the day after Thanksgiving but there has been so much going on that today feels like the first day I can take a deep breath and exhale. All is good in our world, but there has been some of that chaos that creeps in. From now until January 5th, the only things on my calendar are to go to my favorite Italian restaurant with some beloved friends and go see Elf the Musical on my birthday.

My Sweet Man (is it just me or are they at their sexiest when they are holding a baby or doing a project for you?) is on vacation for 3 weeks after this Friday and I am envisioning long days of reading, baking, Christmas movie watching and crafting. I feel like I have gotten my crafting mojo back in spades after quite a long departure. I have so many ideas and projects floating around in my head that I feel most manic in my wish to create.

I'm planning to be back soon with a little glimpse into what Christmas is looking like in our house this year and I hope to find some time to come visit you and see what the holidays are looking like at your house. Until then, I wanted to give you a little thank you gift for always being so sweet. I'm known amongst my friends for putting together a mean playlist and I especially love to make them at Christmas time and share them. Since I obviously can't make one for all of you, I thought I'd share this year's playlist with you here!

 These can all be found on itunes.

Jen's Hello Christmas Playlist 
-Baby it's Cold Outside by Willie Nelson and Norah Jones
-Winter Wonderland by Leftover Cuties
-Hark the Herald Angles Sing by David Ian featuring Acacia
-Silver Bells by Harry Connick, Jr.
-Let it Snow! by Ella Fitzgerald
-It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas by Michael Buble
-I'll be home for Christmas by Stephanie Davis
-It Really is (a wonderful life) by Mindy Smith
-Please Come Home for Christmas by Harry Connick, Jr.
-That Old Christmas Moon by Leon Redbone
-It Came Upon a Midnight Clear by Norah Jones
-Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer by Jack Johnson
-Jingle Bells by Harry Connick, Jr.
-Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Michael Buble
-No Christmas for me by Zee Avi
-Holly Jolly Christmas by Michael Buble
-Santa Baby by Emilie Claire-Barlow
-Blue Christmas by Harry Connick, Jr.
-The Christmas Song by Stacey Kent
-White Christmas by Michael Buble and Shania Twain
-Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by David Ian featuring Acacia
-What are You Doing New Year's Eve by Ella Fitzgerald

Now I'm off to grab a quick lunch and head to the studio and listen to this while I work on a fun new project. Happy day to you all!

November 17, 2014

A Fond Farewell to Fall

Fall is almost but a memory. I'm looking ahead to winter because having 4 inches of snow on the ground gives me the right. I will soon be consumed with all things Christmas so I thought paying my final respects to autumn seemed appropriate. Did you know Thanksgiving is next week? I did, but I didn't! Tonight I worked on my menu and wrote out all of my lists. There's a lot of prep that goes into that production! Want to know what I'm thankful for? A husband that smokes the turkey so that I don't have to cook it. Amen.

We brought in our outside chairs for the season. This bench is also new to me and I painted the dining room table. Again. But then I never got around to distressing and sealing it so that was kind of a Jen-fail. I love the renewed need to nest that comes with each season. The embracing of the changes to the way I cook, decorate and live.

I loved this idea until I came home this weekend from a trip to Missouri to find that one of my cats had decided that freshly pressed napkins in a dough bowl made a cozy bed. I love cats but I don't love cats on the dining room table. This has since moved and the guilty party has been properly chastised. He doesn't even look sorry, does he?

In little more than a week it will be time to focus on my favorite time of the year. I've decided not to let myself get caught up in the stress of trying to do everything. I got a jump start on the shopping, making and wrapping. I'm giving myself permission to have an empty calendar, to not have a house full of homemade Christmas cookies, perfectly wrapped presents, handcrafted decorations and gifts for all of my friends. I do plan to practice random acts of holiday kindness with my family, go to a real Christmas tree farm, see Elf the Musical, go to the movies and make a gift for each of my girls. I really hope to live December as slowly and fully as possible and hopefully set the pace for next year.