After Christmas Sales: Anthropologie and Paper Source

I know this might sound bad, but I absolutely love after-Christmas sales!  My mom always buys Christmas decor on sale after Christmas, and I have always been taught that is the time to buy!  While my mom is more frugal than me and usually gets things 75% off, to me, 50% off is still pretty good.

Since I was starting to feel better, I decided to check out Paper Source.  I picked up this mug for my mom.
I thought these matching tea towels were so cute, and I bought them for myself to use next year.
I also bought this little wine tag, which for some reason I just really liked.
For the husband's aunt, I got these oven mitts.  I think the print is pretty, but still traditional.  She loves to cook, so I will probably pair it with some olive oil or something fancy from Williams Sonoma.
I checked out Anthropologie, and decided to stock up on candles.  I'm kind of the crazy candle lady, but I love how homey they make our apartment. I also think they are a pretty versatile gift to have on hand, so that's how I justify it.  There were some pretty options.
I bought this pretty looking and smelling soap and lotion. I am easily lured in by this sort of thing.
So while I did a decent amount of damage, I'm really excited about everything. Do you shop after Christmas sales?  I feel like there have been some good ones!

Christmas Day Recap!

As I mentioned, this Christmas the husband and I spent as just the two of us because I was still sick.  While I was still under the weather, I was finally starting to feel a little bit better, so that was a huge blessing.

We woke up pretty late on Christmas morning, but the husband made some cinnamon rolls!  I decided to use our holiday plates that we got last year, so that made it feel especially festive.
We then opened up gifts!  I had bought a few things from the husband online, and this year, I was excited that he actually liked most of the things I bought.  J.Crew Factory and J.Crew ran some pretty good deals this season, and I bought him these two ties, two of these shirts, a sweater and a tech cloth (which I felt silly about giving, but oddly was appreciated).  I also bought him a belt and shoe horns (a practical but appreciated gift).  While not under our tree on Christmas day, I bought him a Virginia Tech scarf and gnome ornament. Compared to the past few years, I think I did a little bit better than usual.

Since it was just the two of us, the husband got me a few more stocking stuffers, and he gave me two of these cute dishes from C.Wonder.
To take some of the pressure off the husband, I always do a little shopping for myself, so I got two cute sweaters from Old Navy and a new hat and scarf.  I also found these two books on sale from Anthropologie, so they were a special treat.
That afternoon, I was feeling better, so we decided to venture out to see the National Christmas Tree!  It was a nice little outing.
You can really get a nice view of the White House.
Later that evening we made Christmas dinner.  The husband made a glaze for the ham, and he was pretty pleased with how it turned out.  He also made the green bean casserole, and I made mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie.We used our china and champagne glasses, so it all felt special.

We're hoping to celebrate with our families soon, but it was really nice to have the time together as a couple to reflect on the meaning of Christmas.  How was your holiday?

Home for Christmas

The last-minute Christmas preparations for this weekend ended up a little differently as planned, as late last week I started to come down with a cold again and it has continued to get worse.  It's looking like we will have to delay celebrating Christmas with our families. We are both pretty disappointed, but there isn't really anything that can be done except wait it out. And also to be thankful for my husband who puts up with sick me.

We have never celebrated Christmas with just the two of us, so we are trying to view it as an opportunity. If you think about it, the first Christmas was just with Mary, Joseph and Jesus.  Sometimes I make it into such a project, but really Christmas began quietly.

Our kitchen is looking like a pharmacy, but the rest is pretty festive and that definitely makes me happy.  I love looking at the Christmas lights on our little tree.
Of course, I have a few pink ornaments on display
 and here is our little nativity scene!
Saturday my big activity was going to the store for soup, and I picked up these cheerful tulips. 
I hope that you all have a very merry (and healthy) Christmas!  In the meantime, I will be consuming more than my fair share of Zinc, Vitamin C, tea, honey, and Robitussin.

A Break from Gift Guides: Preparing my heart for Christmas

I love Christmas, but struggle with perfectionist tendencies over trying to find the perfect gift, the perfect Christmas card, etc. I also drive everyone close to me a little crazy in the process.  These past few weeks I've had a cold, so now I'm a little behind, which is making everything a bit worse than usual.  The husband has now caught the cold from me, and I realize I haven't taken had the opportunity to savor the season and all of its joy.

Sunday night the husband left for a business trip, so I went about making strawberry jam for co-workers.  I didn't read the directions carefully enough, and it is more of strawberry syrup. Definitely not something that I will be giving to anyone anytime soon lately.  But, who really cares?  No one else has at my work even bothers with that sort of thing.  I decided to clean up the mess,  and I'm just going to spend the rest of these precious few days enjoying the season. 

For some inspiration, because I'm sure you are even more frazzled than me, I thought I'd share a few quotes from Shauna Niequist's Bread and Wine.  The chapter where she talks about Christmas really helps my spirit, and is something I want to think about in the coming days:

Either I can be here, fully here, my imperfect, messy, tired but wholly present self, or I can miss it- this conversation, this time around the table, whatever it is-because I am trying, and failing, to be perfect, make the meal perfect, ensure the gift is perfect. But this season I'm not trying for perfect. I'm just trying to show up, every time, with honesty and attentiveness...

Let's be courageous in these days. Let's choose love and rest and grace. Let's use our minutes and hours to create memories with the people we love instead of dragging them on one more errand...Let's honor the story-the silent night, the angels, the miracle child, the simple birth, with each choice that we make. 

My prayer is that we'll find ourselves drawn closer and closer to the heart of the story, the beautiful, beating heart of it all, that the chaos around us and within us will recede, and the most important things will be clear and lovely at every turn...I pray that we'll live with intention, hope, and love in this wild season and in every season, and that the God who loves us will bring new life to our worn-out hearts this year and every year, that we'll live, truly and deeply, in the present, instead of waiting, waiting, waiting for perfect.

I'll probably still be talking about gifts and other frivolous things, but in this next week, I'm going to try to focus on preparing my heart for Christmas.

Last Minute Stocking Stuffer Ideas from C. Wonder!

This past weekend I had to take my car in for some work, and while I was waiting, I decided to take the shuttle to the mall.  I had some returns to do, but I also decided to pop into C. Wonder. Of course, I found lots of little stocking stuffers for people (aka me) that I've already finished shopping for.  Even so, I couldn't resist because they were running some pretty good deals in store.  I picked up this candle for the husband's grandma who likes to follow her horoscope.
I also bought this cheeseboard for the husband's aunt and uncle, and we are pairing it with a Blue Apron gift certificate.
I got some puppy stationery for a friend, and some monogrammed stationery for myself. The pack of cards were only $5, which is such a nice little treat. 
They also had monogrammed candles on sale for $5, so of course I got some.
While I definitely didn't need any of this, I think that they are some fun stocking stuffers.  How's your Christmas shopping going?  I still haven't figured out what to get the husband (our gifts to each other are always small), but I think I'm pretty much done with everyone else. 

The Boar's Head Inn decorated for Christmas!

On Friday night the husband and I stayed at Boar's Head Inn, as he had a work event and I thought it would be fun to tag along.  I had never stayed there, but was super excited about the prospect. The rooms are traditional with lots of pictures related to Thomas Jefferson.
While not my style, I thought this mirror fit the mood of the room.
My favorite part are these little balconies.  It reminds me of Colonial Williamsburg.
Ours overlooked the pond.
I thought the front entrance was especially festive.  It looked even more beautiful at night with all the lights.
 They also  had carriage rides!
We had lunch there, which was exciting, but made even more special by the fact that our table was right next to a Christmas tree! I had the peanut soup, and it was delicious. 

Afterwards, the husband enjoyed some hot chocolate. 
We decided to walk around and look at all the Christmas trees after lunch.
They really pull out all the stops for Christmas.
One of the other buildings had even more decor!

It was really fun to see all the different themes and definitely put me in the Christmas spirit!  Sorry for all the pictures, but it was quite the sight to see!

My Favorite Things: Gifts for Friends and Family!

Today I'm linking back up with EliseKatie, April, and Zelle to discuss gifts for friends and family! As much as I love Christmas, I must confess that I get a little bit overwhelmed with the gift buying process.   It just seems like every year I'm so inefficient with holiday shopping and can never think of the "perfect" gift. So with that said, these ideas are far from perfect, but here they are!

For my friend who just went back to work after having her baby, I plan on giving her a framed picture of her son for her desk at work.
For another friend who loves to cook, I'm giving her Ina's newest cookbook and some Christmas themed measuring cups and spoons that I picked up from Pier 1. Another idea I had for her was a subscription to Blue Apron, but that ends up getting pretty pricey.
While certainly not revolutionary, we are giving the husband's aunt a monogrammed cup and some nice tea, paired with a gift certificate. I love C. Wonder and Kate Spade's monogrammed cups.
As you can see, I'm still trying to figure out the gifts for the guys, so I'm hoping to get some inspiration!

Thanksgiving Recap!

I hope everyone had a very happy Thanksgiving. We enjoyed spending time with our families, and just relaxing.  We're definitely feeling the Christmas spirit, so the husband put together a gingerbread house on Wednesday (I was feeling under the weather and just supervised).
It was a fun kit from Trader Joe's, and I think it turned out pretty cute.
We went over to my brother's and SIL for Thanksgiving, and they seemed to like their wreath.
My mom stuck their card in it, because she thought it was so cute.
A feast was prepared!
Afterwards, we took lots of pictures by the tree, and then I helped my mom order her Christmas card.
The husband then headed out to see his parents, and I enjoyed two more days visiting with my sister.  It was great to have such a long time to hang out with my family, but now it's back to reality!  How was your holiday?

My Favorite Things: Stocking Stuffers!

Today I'm linking back up with EliseKatie, April, and Zelle to discuss stocking stuffers!  To be honest, we don't do too many stocking stuffers.  Every year, the poor husband gets stuck with beef jerky and M & Ms.  Sometimes I throw in some socks and boxers just to mix it up. And that is pretty much all of his Christmas gifts. I'm hoping that I can get some good ideas from this series, because I definitely need them!

Some fun picks that I have used in the past include...

1. Quirky ornaments that fit the person's interests.  For example, I saw this little coffee mug ornament at Starbucks the other day, and I think it would be so cute to give with a Starbucks gift card.
2. Specialty food items - Even though I do this a lot, I really do think that buying a special treat that the person would not buy on his or her own, is always nice.
3. Maybe it's just me, but I love cute stationery and office supplies.
4. Little luxuries like fancy lotions, candles, nail polish a nice pair of gloves, etc. I think they are always thoughtful picks.  This little tray is so cute!
What are your favorite little picks?