Wedding Extravaganza: A New Year's Day Wedding

My brother is getting married on New Year's day! I have to say that I'm pretty excited; our family loves his fiancee and couldn't be happier about this new addition. This weekend will be filled with helping with the set up and logistics of their wedding day, but it's certainly an eventful way to spend New Years. This celebration also reminds me of my biggest blessing in 2010; my own marriage to my kind husband.

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year's Day, as our family celebrates one more new beginning!



*Image from Martha Stewart

Matron of Honor to Be: Bridal Shower Invitations!


As some of you may know, one of my good friend's from college asked me to be the matron of honor at her wedding which will take place this summer. Given my love of shopping and with the Christmas fesivities over, I decided to take advantage of my day off to browse a few stores. While I didn't end up buying too much, my trip to TJ Maxx proved quite eventful. At TJ Maxx I spent a few minutes browsing and I found the perfect invitations for my friend's shower that I'll be throwing this summer. While it is very early, I couldn't resist buying these. Yellow is a really pretty color, but it isn't very popular in invitation colors.

She's chosen yellow and navy blue as her color scheme, so I think the invites will look great and all I have to do is print the wording in navy blue. I love the yellow polka dot lining on the envelope. Since the invites are technically wedding invites, the set also comes with reply cards. I'm thinking of using the reply cards (which have a yellow polka dot border!) for recipe cards or a door prize activity for the guests.

Married Life: Our First Married Christmas!

Our first married Christmas is actually a lot different than I thought it would be; it's my first Christmas with my husband and my first Christmas away from my family (because of a bad cold that is circulating through my parents). Fortunately, my sister was still in town (she lives where my husband's parents live), so I got to spend Christmas with the two people who really make my Christmas. I do miss my parents, brother, grandma and home, but it's interesting to see how my husband spends his Christmas. The presents have been unwrapped, I've successfully made two pumpkin pies, and dinner is cooking. So, merry Christmas to you, and all the best wishes in 2011!

Married Life: Christmas with the In-laws

Now that break has officially begun, the husband and I are set to leave in a few hours for his parents, and then we'll celebrate Christmas with my family. Because my mom came down with a bad cold a few days ago that seems to be moving through the rest of the household, we switched our plans at the last minute. We're trying to stay/get well, because my brother is getting married on New Year's Day! So this will be a pretty busy Christmas season for our family. I'm so excited to be spending my first Christmas with my husband, and since my sister goes to school where my husband's parents' live, I'll get to spend Christmas day with her too. So just a little cleaning and packing, and we will be hitting the road!

Literary Christmas Activities

It's the last day of school before break, and it's pretty much like holding wild horses back! Since we're ahead of schedule and studying "Romeo and Juliet", I'm teaching my students about Elizabethian England Christmas traditions, which is actually kind of neat. Did you know that one of the activities they had during Christmas time involved lighting brandy on fire and then picking out raisins and eating them? People would bet on how many raisins a person could get. So today, I'm regaling my students with those stories in an attempt to hold their interest.

When trying to think of activities for today, I realized there are so many wonderful pieces of literature related to Christmas time, besides the Christmas Story. For instance, "The Night Before Christmas," "A Christmas Carol," "Twelfth Night," Milton's "On Christ's Nativity", "The Gift of the Magi" and one I just recently read with my class "A Christmas Memory" by Capote. I've been reading a few of these with my students, and they really get me in the Christmas spirit. I hope that everyone's breaks are starting soon and that you get a chance to rejoice in the season!

*Image from Real Simple

Christmas Outfits

Christmas Outfits
Christmas Outfits by lwyat1oz featuring cashmere tops

Today is a lazy day, so I thought I'd get a head start on throwing a few outfits in my bag for the Christmas holidays. I know they're nice and simple, but I love the Christmas colors. I don't own a lot of red and green, so I supplemented the colors with some neutrals.

What I saw on my trip to Anthropologie

For some reason, I really enjoy walking around Anthropologie every once in awhile. When my friend came up this weekend, we stopped there on a whim. I know everyone has talked about the new cloth bound Penguin books, but one of the children's books really caught my eye. If I were close to a 12 year old girl, I don't think I could resist buying this. I loved Anne of Green Gables as a child, and still have all my L.M. Montgomery books stashed at home. I spent so much time reading these stories, and I just love the charming new cover. If it ever goes on sale, I think I won't be able to resist. They also have beautifully bound copies of Little Women, A Christmas Carol, and Emma. My friend and I walked away, since we're both trying to be good about spending...but it was hard.
I ended picking up a candle for seven dollars for part of a friend's birthday gift in January, but otherwise, my friend and I left Anthropologie unscathed. Although, I was tempted by these little alphabet ornaments. I think they are really cute to put on top of present's, and personalize the gift a little bit more. Fortunately for me, the initials I wanted were sold out, so I didn't fall completely off the bandwagon.

*All images from Anthropologie's Website

Wrapping up the week!

The snow on Thursday was enough to get out of school today, so that meant a nice long weekend for me! My husband finished exams and papers yesterday, after pulling an all nighter, so today has been a quiet day. I think I'm finished buying (and even more importantly, wrapping) Christmas presents for everyone, Christmas cards have been mailed, and I've cleaned the house up a bit. I feel that this year Christmas presents will be a little more low key; we're so blessed to have everything we need (and plenty more).

Tomorrow, two of our friends are going to come visit, and we'll celebrate Christmas with them. Then, I have just three days of school, and it'll be time to celebrate Christmas with our families.

Crafts I've tried and failed

I have a love hate relationship with crafts. The love bit is that I really like the idea of making something beautiful and meaningful for someone you care about. The hate part is that I'm horrible at them and I feel at the end they just waste money and your time.
On today's snow day, I was going to attempt to make peppermint bark. I was inspired by this blog post from the Preppy Wedding. It's really easy, so I figured, why not? I went to the store, bought the ingredients, got home and realized I'd purchased fruit flavored candy canes. How in the world does one manage to buy that flavor in a sea of mint? I found a way, that's for sure.
Anyways, it's snowing pretty hard, and I don't think my beetle really can make another trip. So that gives me time to think about all of the crafts I've failed at...and then I'm going to clean the apartment. In no particular order, I have tried and failed at the following:
1. Knitting (I can make a scarf, but that's it, and it definitely looks homemade)
2. Cross-stitch and needlepoint (I didn't get very far at needlepoint. Cross-stitch I can do, but again, what I make no one in their right mind would want)
3. Scrapbooking (I'm not necessarily bad at scrapbooking, but with Shutterfly's existence, why bother?)
4. Glass etching. This is my latest endeavor, and it most definitely crashed and burned. I cheaped out and bought the wrong stencils, and you definitely need to be precise with the etching cream.
I'm also bad at decorating (although I love looking at home decorating magazines) and don't really cook. I'm decidedly not a domestic diva. Despite all these disappointments, I still find myself browsing Martha Stewart's webpage today. At least you can say that my failures certainly aren't for lack of trying. So, maybe I'll get around to making that peppermint bark after all!

*Image from craftzine.com

Wishes for ending this year well!

It's the end of the semester for my husband, so it means lots of exams and a paper. He's been working hard these past few days, so I want to wish him luck on his last few.

My students are also wrapping up the semester. Our high school is on a semester schedule, so I will be getting new students in a few weeks. The change can sometimes make things more intense, but it's also really nice. Even though others' lives aren't dominated by a semester schedule, I always feel like we get a new start with the new year.

In other news, the weather has been freezing! My diesel bug hasn't been very happy about the weather, and a little light has popped on. It showed up last week when it was cold too, and I'm hoping it will go away and warm up. The cold makes me so lazy. When I get home, I just want to curl up under a blanket and not do anything. I'm hoping that this afternoon I'll have enough warmth to tidy our apartment up, and maybe run by the grocery store to pick up bread and milk.

Their stockings were hung...

This weekend, my husband was busy studying for his exams, so I spent Saturday running a few errands and cleaning the house a bit. We've been gone quite a few weekends in a row, and it was great to have time to clean the kitchen floor! On Sunday, I went to my parent's for my brother's fiancee's bridal shower, and it was a good time. I was happy to see my parents. I also got to bring back some warm winter sweaters and our Christmas stockings that I'd had in storage.By the way, I know there is a bit of clutter on the mantle. I kept the same things on the mantle that I usually do, and the husband pointed out that it seemed a bit cluttery. I'll admit that we have quite a hodge podge of belongings, so he does have a point. Regardless, seeing the stockings hung up on our mantle makes me so happy. I bought them last year on sale and have been looking forward to using them; they make our first Christmas seem real! What Christmas rituals make you feel that the season is really upon us?

Christmas Presents for...the elegant grandmother

The boy's grandmother is a lovely lady who travels a bit and likes nice things (oh, don't we all!). She's pretty low-key, but I thought that it would be nice to send her a little something to show that we are thinking of her.
In my opinion, Talbots is usually a pretty good place to go for traditional and beautiful things. However, Talbots has been getting a bit trendier lately. So much so, that a trip to Talbots resulted in the buying of some chandelier earrings for a friend and I was sorely tempted to buy another pair of earrings for myself. Nonetheless, I ended up finding some silver hoops for my husband's grandmother. They're a bit more bling than she usually wears, but maybe some extra sparkle is good for the holidays. Regardless, she has a gift receipt and can return them if I missed the mark completely.I also found this little jewelry roll at TJ Maxx, which I really like. I think it'd be perfect for her travels and also seems refined like her. So with those purchases, my husband's grandmother's present is off in the mail!

Christmas Presents for the Christmas Angel!

Our school SCA tries really hard to do a few things to reach out to the community during Christmas time, namely a food drive and the Christmas mother. This year, my husband and I had the pleasure of buying gifts for a ten year old girl. Sadly, I always choose a girl, because I know it will be easier to buy for.

There is nothing more fun than shopping for a ten year old girl!We found a pretty warm jacket from Old Navy and gloves. I also picked up some lip smackers (I remember those being a hot commodity), stickers and fun school supplies, a little pink Christmas tree, hot cocoa mugs, hot cocoa, and a teddy bear. I also found some of the ever popular shape bracelets, some clothes, and a little fleece pullover. What gifts do you remember loving when you were ten?

*Image from Old Navy

Christmas Cards are in the mail!

On Monday I received my Shutterfly Christmas cards and I was extremely pleased with the product! I was expecting the card to be more of a photo, but I was pleased that they were actual cards on cardstock.

Despite my headache, I began addressing cards and getting ready to send them out. I'm pleased that I've finished them up and they are in the mail! Even though Christmas cards are a little extra work, and a lot of people don't bother sending them, I really love sending letters. I think there is nothing better than getting a little note from a loved one, and I was so happy to be able to send out such beautiful cards from our wedding day.

Blessed

Lately, I've just been really grateful. My students have been pretty crazy, and it makes me so happy to just come home to my caring husband, vent to my sister, and have a place to sleep at night and rest.

I mentioned that my sister and I finally got around to watching "Sex and the City 2." Besides lacking a legitimate plot and having some cultural insensitivities, the thing that really got me was the complete lack of gratefulness on the part of Carrie. She throws a fit when Mr. Big arrives home with takeout and is too tired to go out. I guess I just sympathize too much with being exhausted at the end of the day, but if I were her, I would be so excited about delicious food that I didn't have to make. Sometimes, it's just the simplest caring acts that make such a difference. I'm always amazed how just a change in my tone or a smile can change a student's reaction. I guess it's just a matter of perspective, but as we approach Christmas time, I realize just how blessed I am (even when I'm stressed)!

Christmas Presents for...the boy's favorite aunt!

Preparations for Christmas are heating up a bit; I only have a few more things to pick up and wrap. True, I'm not wrapping up for a huge family or little kids, but it's amazing how just buying a few gifts for a few people takes a decent amount of time! I love buying gifts for people, so I know that I also make things a bigger deal than they have to be.

I was very excited to arrive home yesterday, because my Shutterfly cards that I ordered arrived, along with this cosmetics case and the personalized ornament that I ordered for a friend!

With that said, this is what I came up with for my husband's aunt. She's a really lovely person, so I wanted to make sure that she got something especially nice. I ended up buying this monogrammed cosmetics bag from Pottery Barn, and filling it up with black raspberry vanilla lotion and shower gel. I was pleasantly suprised that the bag was so big. It easily fit the lotion, gel and candle. Sometimes I feel that lotions are very generic, but at the same time, I think that they are a little indulgence. I topped the gift off with a nice candle, and am looking forward to packing it up with the other gifts for my new extended family. Are there any gifts that you've given a favorite aunt that they've especially liked? I'm still trying to figure out a nice gift for my husband's grandma.

Weekend Recap: A Snowy Saturday!

This weekend, my husband and I ventured to western Virginia, so my husband could drive down to a Tech game with his dad and I could visit my sister. Fortunately, we had an easy drive both ways, and VA Tech won! I could care less who wins, but their victory means that Christmas travel will be a bit easier and is finally all worked out!

Saturday, my sister and I ran some errands and I ended up getting some really delicious smelling candles and earrings for gifts. We also ran over to Michael's, and got materials to make her a wreath and some small ornaments to put in vases as decor. Since it was starting to snow rather heavily, we headed back home and spent our evening watching "Sex and the City 2" and "Eat, Pray, Love." I wish I could say that the movies were good, but "Sex and the City 2" was pretty abysmal, and I felt that "Eat, Pray, Love" was kind of annoying too. Nonetheless, it was fun to just hang out and enjoy being inside as the snow came down.

Sunday was a pretty lazy day. My husband and I drove back home and I ran my errands for the week and got all of my grading done. The boy watched a basketball game, and I wrapped up some more of our Christmas presents.

Amazingly enough, our Shutterfly albums all arrived (they turned out really great), so I was able to get some of our parent's gifts all finished. I'm still waiting on our Shutterfly Christmas cards, so I figured it'd be wise not to procrastinate on the wrapping. I hope everyone had a great weekend, as we are in the midst of the holiday season!

Our humble Christmas decor

A lot of other bloggers have displayed their decorations for Christmas on their blog, and I thought that I would jump on the bandwagon. My husband and I have definitely stepped it up a little bit, compared to what our decor was in our single apartments. For some reason, it's really special to be celebrating our first Christmas together.

Obviously, the main event of our Christmas decor is our tree. Our apartment is already filled to the brim with furniture and the joining of all of our things, so finding a place for the Christmas tree was a bit tough. We moved a few things around though, and the tree is now situated in our living room, right next to the tv (where we both spend a fair amount of time). My ornaments that I usually use are still at my parents' house (so I'm missing a topper), but at least we have a tree with lights and a few decorations! I know our tree is a little sad; however, it's kind of just exciting to have one!

My husband's mom gave us a lovely keepsake ornament for our engagement last year, and I can't wait for us to go pick out an ornament together this year. As you can see, we have a few presents under the tree already. I've done quite a bit of buying and wrapping already, but I left a few bags of gifts at my parents' over Thanksgiving. My husbands' mom loves peace signs, so a few of her gifts are bedecked with peace sign ornaments.

In our bedroom, I put out a little tinsel Christmas tree that I got at Pier 1 a few years ago. It's a little tacky, but I love the silver and blues. I'm pretty sure my husband isn't terribly amused by it; fortunately, he tolerates my lack of taste.

The only other touches of festivity are ornaments in vases. I have them perched in whatever horizontal spaces I can find in our apartment; right now that's the top of the fridge. Even though our place is small, it's nice to take out our decorations and make our apartment a little more special this time of year. We still have a little bit more decorating to do (our stockings need to be hung!), but it's starting to look like Christmas around here.

Shutterfly Christmas Cards!


It's hard to believe that it is Wednesday (although I can't wait until Friday). Thanksgiving Break was wonderful; it was really nice to have some time off from my students. I was really lucky because our photographer gave us the cd and prints from our wedding, so I spent a lot of time working on photo books at Shutterfly and picking out our Christmas card. Both sets of our parents are getting albums for Christmas, so designing the different ones took awhile. I also had a hard time choosing a Christmas card design. I ended up choosing this design, which I really like. If I'd had my way, I would have picked polka dots, but my husband really hated how girly it was. Either way, I can't wait until our photo books and cards arrive!

On Sunday, my husband surprised me by setting up our tree, and we've already started to decorate our apartment a little. As soon as I find my camera, I'll take a few pictures of the Christmas festivities.