Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Gatherings

I am currently suffering from a bad case of the after Christmas blues! I love all the anticipation and preparation for Christmas, but am always sad when the whirlwind of activities comes to an end.  I thought I'd take a moment and share with you some images from our family Christmas gatherings.  This year we hosted not 1..but 2 Christmases!

The first one was Christmas morning with my family.  My sweet brother Mike was staying with us from California, so it was only fair to put him to work too.

Nothing makes me happier than a warm beverage on a chilly day...and chilly it was! This warm apple cider and hot chocolate bar did just the trick. 

This Wolfgang Puck recipe for spiced apple cider was a winner.

Our hot chocolate bar included pirouettes, fudge, marshmallows, whipped cream, m&m's, stir sticks made by dipping spoons into melted chocolate and sprinkled with peppermint, cinnamon, crushed peppermint and a variety of gourmet hot chocolate packets.
I bought these tin containers from the dollar spot at Target and painted them with chalkboard paint for a fun little twist.
We used this old shutter to display Christmas cards. 
Try something new this year! I never would have guessed I would be capable of making this, but was quite pleased with how it turned out! This centerpiece was the anchor on the table.
Our main tree
Lots of presents
I didn't get too many pictures fom Christmas #2 with Josh's family, but here are a few.  We decided to do an italian themed dinner. 
I made homemade lasagna.  Yum!
We also had these fun drinks, which we nicknamed "The Grinch."  They were Prosecco with a scoop of lime sherbert.
This is the newest member in Josh's family, Levi.  I could hardly handle his cuteness!
We had a white Christmas this year which doesn't happen too often in Texas!
Wishing you all a very happy new year and a blessed 2013. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas Traditions

This is my favorite time of year! Hands down.  I love the anticipation that fills the air. Having a job that allows me to work with children, reminds me of how magical it can be.  Growing up, my family had traditions that I looked forward to each year.  My favorite one was getting together with my mom's side of the family on Christmas Eve.  We had our Christmas meal at Pappasitos followed by a $10 gift exchange at my grandma's house.  As a child, I recall driving home from our outing and looking in the sky for "rudolph's nose." We still, to this day, do this and I look forward to it every year.

 Last year Josh and I realized that we had not started any traditions in our small family. Not shortly after that realization, I stumbled upon this beautiful blog post from Cara Carroll at the First Grade Parade.  She talks about how her family does one random act of Christmas kindness (RACK) each day leading up to the 25th.  I was completely and utterly inspired by this.  Isn't that what this season is all about? Giving and filling others with joy and kindness.  Isn't that why we celebrate Christmas in the first place?  Because the Lord was so good and generous that he sent the ultimate gift, His son, that would one day save us all? I know that I am guilty of getting caught up in gifts and material things.  I needed a heart check.  Josh and I decided that this was something that we wanted to adopt into our family as a tradition.  We did it last year and are doing it again this year.  Not every RACK we do is big, and in fact, many are quite small...returning baggage carts at the airport, taking donations to goodwill. And we are not perfect at doing them all, some days we have to do 3-4 in one day, and some we might not get to at all.  The point is that we slowly learning to take the "I" out of Christmas and learning to make it about others. 

Below is our calendar of what this looks like for our family:

Friends, let me take a moment to share my heart with you. I greatly struggled with this blog post. I mean, a lot.   I continually went back and forth on whether to post it at all. Our pastor recently preached on Matthew 6:1-2 (below).  The last thing I want is a pat on the back.  I prayed about my decision to post this and ultimately decided I would.  Our family has recieved so much joy and blessing from this tradition. It would be selfish of me to withhold that from you.  If hearing this inspires even one person to pay it forward, then it was worth it. 

6 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Trendy Trees

I love the airport! I love that everyone has a story and I love trying to figure them out! Anyway since I'm trying to kill a few hours between flights and my book is less than amazing (The Curious incident of the Dog in the Nighttime) I thought I'd pass along a little tree decorating inspiration. Which do you prefer?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Christmas Tree Decorating Tutorial

While my trees don't quite have the sparkle like this...

I have picked up a thing or two about decorating Christmas trees. The key to it all...LAYERS! Tag along for my step by step tutorial for creating a beautifully decorated tree that works for YOU!

Shaping- This part is important to the overall look of the tree (and it's so easy even my husband can do it!) The key to shaping a tree is putting in one section at a time.  I always check the lights as I go, so I don't run into any problems once it's decorated.  Start at the inside of each branch, near the pole.  At the center, the branches go straight up to hide the inside of the tree.  As you work your way out, start angling the branches toward you. I know there are other ways to shape trees to make them look more like the actual style of tree you have, but this is the way that always works for me.

Fabric and Ribbon: There are many different things you can do to create a full looking tree with fabric and ribbon.  You can do as much or as little as you'd like! This particular tree has 3 layers of textiles. 
1st-  The first thing I do is use a fabric garland to fill the inside of the tree.  I used 2 - 9 foot garlands on this 7.5' tree. 
I started at the top of the tree and looped the garland all the way around the tree on the inside. The garland should be close to the pole, but not pulled in super tight.  This will create the look below and help fill in any ugly gaps. 
Wide ribbon- The next layer is a wider ribbon.  I use 2 different coordinating styles for this part.  It is very important to choose a style that is wired along the edges.  This will help it hold it's shape.

I cut my ribbon into approximately 4' sections.  This makes it easier to work with and allows you to start it where you want to.  You should be able to get in 2 good loops (hmm what to call it.. arch?)  from each section. I start mine at the top and work around the tree at a diagonal. To anchor it, tuck the ribbon into the inside of the tree and wrap a branch around it to keep it in place. A key for next year: staple the ribbon on each end.  Next year when you pull it out of storage, you won't have such a mess.

Here is what mine looked like when I finished that layer.  Hideous, right? This is the point where I always feel like ripping everything off and starting over.  It gets better as it starts filling in. Notice I alternated which color ribbon was on the top.  This helps add interest.
3rd layer- Curly Q's! This layer is completely optional, but helped add the fun, whimsy look that I was going for. You will need a smaller (2"-3")wired ribbon cut into shorter sections.  I wanted a varied look for this part, so some of my sections are longer than others ( I would say between 1'-3').  Again I used to coordinating ribbons to create a fun look. Staple one end of the ribbon to keep them together.
Insert the ribbon into the tree and anchor it by wrapping a branch around it.  Curl the ribbon into the shape you want it.  Since it is wired, it should hold it's shape.  (I've been using the same ribbon for 3 years now and it still holds.)

I stagger them throughout the tree, all the way around, until I get the look I want.
Balls- This is a great, inexpensive way to give your tree a full look! Plastic balls in solid colors are relatively cheap!Always start with your large plastic balls.  These go deep inside the tree and fill in holes or blank spaces.  

This size is good.  I throw in a few sparkles for fun.  Once you have filled in gaps with large balls, go back and add in small solid color balls.  These are placed back on the branch a little, but not deep within the tree.  I add TONS of cheap balls to my tree.  I also use some with a bit of sparkle or unusual shapes like finials. 

Bling- The last layer is your bling! This is what really sets your tree off.  This will include all your sparkly  or specialty ornaments.  Since this tree was done in red/silver I used lots of red and crystal drop ornaments to create an elegant look.  Place these on the ends of the branches to finish the tree off.

(Can you see my husband's contribution to the tree?  He was proud to place this ornament after the Aggie win this weekend!)

Tree topper-the last step to creating a beautiful tree is your topper.  Traditional toppers like angels or stars seem to be disappering more and more.  One fun way to finish off your tree is to use sprays or picks.  I use a combination of ribbon and funky picks for my topper.  I do not know how to make bows, fortunately you do not need to know how to create this look.  I created large ribbon loops that were approximately the same size each.  I wrapped the loops with florist wire and shaped them up.  I created 3 of these "bow like things" and anchored them to the top of the tree. They went all the way around. Once in, I just started sticking red and silver picks down through the loops.  I used 12 sprays to create this look. I also cut a few more strands of ribbon and hooked them in to look like tails.



And now you have your beautiful tree! It's all in the layers... textiles, balls, bling and topper!



Saturday, October 13, 2012

Final Fall Touches

A nice little drop in the weather last weekend sent me running to mom and dad's Christmas store with a caramel salted mocha in hand.  Okay, 2 weekends in a row.  My name is Kristin and I have a problem.  I am a Christmasaholic. I brought along my friend, Deb, and we had so much fun picking out all the pieces to make Christmas centerpieces...more on that later.  I also replinished my supply of fall decor and have added the final touches around my home.  Here are some of the images.  Enjoy.

No short supply here.
This door wouldn't be complete with a nice fall wreath.
A few more pumpkins on our fall mantle.
I even brought a little fall into the bedroom.
My favorite is our front entry.  Giant white pumpkin.  Yes please! 
Last night we enjoyed this little treat.  Chilled white wine delievered to our doorstep. Can it get any better?!  Thank you for saving us a trip to the store!
If you want to get this started in your neighborhood...mosey on over to The Tom Kat Studio to get your own free printable BOO signs!  Ooooo now to start thinking about what to put in our basket.