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Christmas Snapshots

Year two entertaining ourselves at home for Christmas day and I have got to figure out how to keep a honey baked ham from drying out. I’m sure Pinterest has a few suggestions, so I’ll be pinning away ham tips for the rest of my life.

Baci and Misha had a particularly lovely Christmas, since they didn’t have to eat dry ham and all. We gave them this remote control mouse thinking it would be a big hit. Instead, Baci was more concerned with protecting the gift bag it came in and slapping Little Stewart far away like a baseball anytime it came near his beloved gift bag. Misha just ran away scared. It was a “why aren’t we recording this?” moment that I am sorry I missed. For your sake, since these things don’t translate as well unless you were there to see it, I’ll move on.

There were mimosas and a half-played Monopoly game and carbs, carbs, so many carbs. It was a lovely little Christmas, but I missed my family and things are silly as an adult. Holidays are different, no? We spent Christmas Eve with my brother and his girlfriend, but then we said goodbyes and Merry Christmas and they were off. Christmas day was slow and perfect. Nothing was rushed, which is a change for two children of divorced families, and we tried to take the holiday in slow motion. Our Christmas day ended late, picking my dad up from the airport near midnight and hearing his adventures from Munich at Christmastime.

We’re doing Christmas number 2 today with goulash and bratwurst and (hopefully) gifts from the forest of edelweiss and cuckoo clocks and such. We’re also drinking beer, naturally. So I must move on this morning and prepare for zweiten Weihnachts.

Here are some little snapshots of our little Christmas, a complete mixture of blurry iphonography and the few moments I took out the big girl camera.

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The Bylands Deck the Halls Part 2

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Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas by James Taylor on Grooveshark

Dear James, how my Christmas is complete with you. Your voice was made for my Christmas Eve.

Do you put baby Jesus out in the manger before Christmas Eve? I snuck him out there a few days early this year so I could take these pictures. And he’s been a newborn little one wrapped in swaddling clothes ever since. I think I may have him make a premature appearance every year here on out.

It’s been a silly little Christmas season, hasn’t it? Short, busy, a little bit of the same and some changes thrown in there, too. I’m heading to work for what will hopefully be just a few hours to tie up lose ends and then picking up the motherload of all motherloads of dry cleaning. I’ll bake some cookies because I’ve yet to bake cookies for us, it’s been a year of giving so far. And then we’ll be heading out to one of those Italian feasts and lots of wine dinners with my brother and his girlfriend. A quiet Christmas Eve. The father is in Germany and the mother and sister are in Michigan. We’re all scattered about, but that’s okay.

You know why? Because it’s a season, isn’t it, Christmas? We’ve been celebrating our Christmas for weeks and we’ll be celebrating up until that ball drops in a week. I hope that you have a merry little Christmas this year, wherever you are and whomever you are with. I hope you get a chance to watch some Charlie Brown Christmas or some Little Women or some It’s a Wonderful Life, or whatever Christmas movie it is that you can’t go without year after year. Those are just mine.

One of our friends is really hoping her husband gets her a puppy for Christmas. I know another friend is hoping for a particular piece of jewelry. And then we have friends who are hoping that their place gets rented out soon. Others are hoping for a baby. Quite a few are just hoping for something new, bright and shiny. Whatever your Christmas wishes for under that tree, I hope that more than that, more than those things, that you get to spend some time with the ones you love. In big groups or tiny groups. However the dice rolled this year, it’s about that time to be ending 2013 on a happy note. So let’s end it right there.

Happy Christmas Eve, my friends.

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Have a Real Christmas, Philly Style

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Don’t you just love when things work out better than you even expected? Like maybe when you take your chances on Expedia, their little map, and the best hotel you can find under $100 a night? And then it turns out to be one of the greatest locations in the city. Oh, and the bed is by far the most comfortable bed you’ve ever slept in. And the hotel bartender makes a mad Old Fashioned (which is important, you see, because I’m a whiskey girl). Plus, it turned our our rooms were about 60% off and that means we really lucked out.

The majority of our weekend was spent visiting my in-laws in Philadelphia, a city I’ve grown to be on speaking terms with, but I’ve hated the city my whole life. Mainly because it’s always been so dirty whenever we’d take field trips up there for school. And it does, truly, have a smell. But, anyway, Philadelphia and I have leveled the field and I pretend it doesn’t stink and the city has, over the past few trips, showed me some fun times. So there’s that. Philadelphia. And Le Meridien. Great hotel.

Once we stumbled out of bed Saturday morning, we crossed the street to the German Christmas market right outside of City Hall and stumbled across this delightful Christmas tree farm. Oh, it was so cute with city apartment size tabletop Christmas trees and tons of wreaths and just all things Christmas greenery. But the prices! Yikes. Reminded me why, in just one solitary price tag, why I could never live in the city. Plus, apparently you can’t have a real Christmas without a real Christmas tree and that doesn’t sound fair to me.

I like my fake tree. She’s hanging in there pretty good. But, the whole point of this is, I thought you’d like to see their sign. That’s it, really. I wrote this entire blog post, threw in a few extra pictures, and hit publish just because I wanted to share their cute sign with you. Um, that is all.

When You Go to an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

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Two hundred and sixteen. I’ve purchased six bags of Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips in December to bake cookies. That’s over two hundred chocolate chip cookies (although the sixteen may be a bit too exact when you live in a household where eating globs of cookie dough is strictly expected). You’re still hoping for my secret recipe, I know. Keep on waiting.

I’ve tried baking our family repertoire of Christmas cookies. Really, every year I do. But this year all I’ve got is a list THIS long of chocolate chip cookie requests. Bag seven’s coming down the pipe on Thursday for our work group holiday lunch. Then perhaps I can get around to the fudge and the toffee and the powdery crinkles that I bake just once a year. Comet and the gang prefer a smorgasbord to chocolate chips after all.

We attended an ugly Christmas sweater soiree on Saturday. Alex wore his favorite holiday sweater (no, really, he wears this thing just about half of the time) and I wore poinsettias and wrapped boxes and ornaments all at once. So much holiday cheer going on. Now, truth be told, we didn’t really get that ugly with our sweaters this year. Ridiculous and over the top? Yes. But my husband here loves those snowball fighting men a little too much and so there we were.

It was such a great time, in that Christmas party sort of way. Lots of hot cocoa and eggnog, Nat King Cole, pictures by the tree. Well, you know how it goes. I took a couple snapshots….

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The Bylands Deck the Halls Part 1

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Merry Christmas, Here’s to Many More by Relient K on Grooveshark

Without even hinting it, both Alex and I were itching to rearrange the living room last month so when it came time to put up the Christmas tree, there we were, moving furniture in all sorts of different formations. We’ve settled on a simple arrangement, traditional in nature, with standard furniture placements like couches underneath windowsills and floor lamps in corners. And it’s been a good exercise in living with whatcha got. We could sure use another, say, even five square feet in this room, but we don’t and so that’s that.

We’re really big on tartan this year. Come to think of it, tartan’s always been there, but my great uncle gave us his old tartan wool throw when we visited for Thanksgiving and that really was all our plaid-loving selves needed. I mean, don’t you remember my plaid gift guide from last month? See.

I also picked up CD number three of The Snowman. Which, in case you were wondering, is the number one reason my children will play the piano. I also need to work on acquiring a piano. (Reason of the day we need a new home: a place for a baby grand.) So we’ve been listening on repeat to Howard Blake’s lovely melodies. It’s very soothing. I suggest you try it out.

And we’re smelling a lot like the three wise men these days. To be honest, I burned through my fair share of balsam and pine back in November and the home was begging for a change. So we’re embracing the frankincense and myrrh, mixing it with firewood and cigars, and finding ourselves much, much happier than we ever were with Christmas tree scented wax.

Anyway, here are some pictures of our Christmas tree and the lovely decorations we’ve dressed her in. Along with other bits and pieces of the living room. Enjoy.

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Candles here, Woody pillow here

And, also, be sure to enter to win $50 credit to Minted. The giveaway ends soon!

Chesnuts Roasting On An Open Fire: The Gift Guide

In the life I dream of, where there’s a money tree in the back yard that produces enough cash for me to own a rustic lodge in the mountains where I can retreat on summer weekends and through the entire winter, I spend the holidays draped in flannel, tartan, and fair isle.

Well, I kind of do anyway, but it just isn’t the same without the open fire, the chesnuts, hot chocolate, and snow falling in big, clumpy flakes day in and day out. Instead I guess I’m just trying to keep DC classy. And this gift guide is all about comfort, class, and the rustic feel that the holidays can (and should) bring out in our lives. My favorite from this list? The fair isle throw blanket. I’m a throw horder.

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1. Ex-Boyfriend Flannel Shirt 2. Fair Isle Scarf in Verry Berry 3. Tartan sunglass case 4. Martin Fair Isle knit throw 5. Fair Isle crewneck sweater 6. Silly Cow Farms Chocolate Peppermint Cocoa 7. Tasseled tartan slippers 8. Clearly Tartan 5x7 picture frame 9. Ruffled Camp socks

Don’t miss this year’s other gift guides: Dreaming of a White Christmas and All That Glitters is Gold

All That Glitters is Gold: The Gift Guide

I think this is by far my favorite compilation of holiday gifts ever. I went through a very long anti-gold part of my life. All I wanted was silver, white gold, platinum…. you name it. I thought that gold meant old fashioned.

Well, gold’s making quite a comeback these days. Brass is even back in style (what!? I know…) so it’s become rather easy to find great gold details for your home, your closet, and your jewelry box of course. My favorite thing on this list? The minimergency kit. I keep thinking about buying one for myself and then I just don’t. Maybe Santa will put one in my stocking?

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1. Limited Edition Golden Monogram Mug 2. Gold-Tone Glitter Stone Leverback Earrings 3. Bronze pumps 4. Noel sequin oblong pillow 5.Metro Grand Gold-Tone Glitter watch 6. Pop Fizz Clink idiom bracelet 7.Zip Around clutch 8. Pinch Minimergency Kit 9. Copper Moscow Mule Mugs

If you missed Monday’s Dreaming of a White Christmas gift guide, definitely check it out. Happy shopping!

A Merry Little Christmas

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Sister Hazel on Grooveshark

Our tiny little holiday with just the two of us. In pictures….

*Please pardon my learning curve as I get acquainted with my brand new, very amazing, very much loved and adored, very own 50mm 1.4 lens!*

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…. so much light…..

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We sure missed our family and definitely had a few moments where we wished we were in Michigan with everyone else. But we had, without a doubt, a merry little Christmas.

The Sunday Currently {11}

(we took a quick peek at the National Tree this afternoon…)

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reading not too much. We are watching a lot of Christmas movies these days. Doesn’t leave much time for reading.

writing a Christmas dinner menu. Which will be followed by one last trip to the grocery store. We’re going the honey baked ham, sweet potatoes, Waldorf salad route.

listening to Maybe This Christmas’s Pandora station. It’s really awesome. Loving it.  Check it out. I’m not steering you wrong. Promise.

thinking how crazy it is that Christmas Eve is tomorrow night. And how sad it is that we are already 2 days into winter break. Time needs to slow itself down.

smelling chocolatecrinkles baking in the oven. :)

wishing we were in Michigan with my family right now. Sometimes plans have to change, but it’s going to be…. different…. spending my first Christmas without everyone. I love you all. Miss you all. Hugs and kisses. And lots of cookies and eggnog, too.

hoping our little Christmas here in Maryland will be a happy and blessed one. Lots of snuggles and hot chocolate and gifts and smiles and laughs. You know, the stuff that makes Christmas so special.

wearing my green Minnies, a black shirt and the earrings my bff, Katie, brought back from Kabul for me! I love them!

loving that I got to see said bff Friday night. And loving even more that we’ll ring in 2013 together!

wanting her to stay home forever and not go back to Afghanistan. (Are you reading this, Katie?!?!) Ok, good. Onward.

needing to visit the gym. Or go for a run. Between the cookies and the drinks and the lack of working out…. I think that it’s finally creeping up to me. Time to get back into a routine.

feeling so incredibly full. We went to Christmas brunch today with my in-laws. One of those Brazilian Steakhouse joints. Have you been to one? They keep feeding you meat until you are about to explode. Amazing for the glutton in us all.

clicking on this post. My cat is FAMOUS! Did you see him? There’s Baci, looking up at our tree ON NATALIE HOLBROOK’S BLOG!!!! I tried to explain what this meant to Baci, but he just looked at me and then nuzzled my arm. He didn’t get it. I celebrated his fame for him.

Did you miss the other Sunday editions of Currently? No worries. You can find them all here.

And now you should go link up with Lauren!

A Christmas Decorating Extravaganza {Pt. 2}

Meet Willie.

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Our super awesome pine cone friend from Carlee over at Life Smith. Willie fit in right away on our tree. What is it about receiving an ornament that stirs up the most basic of Christmas cheer? It doesn’t matter how sparkly, how festive, how stupid or beautiful the ornament is. I mean, even Charlie Brown understood the importance of an ornament. One single red ball. Cheers everyone right up.

Something tells me this will be a holiday none of us forget. And with all of the love and happiness and cheer, there will be a heaviness and anger that trail with it through the rest of our years. I don’t have an answer for fixing that.

But take a look at the ornaments on your tree. Or on the tree at Starbucks or the gym. And let them help you smile. Simple, raw smiles. Nostalgic smiles and excited smiles and remember all of those simple gifts.

And decorate, people. Brighten this world with lights. Find smiles behind ornaments. Hug your friends and family with garlands and ribbons and strings of cranberries and popcorn and paper chains and just, well, hug them. Even that little tree, that little wooden one, all it needed was a child’s blanket and that bright red ball. And all was right in the world. Charlie Brown got it. Just decorate.

Simple Gifts by Yo-Yo Ma on Grooveshark

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… and bake for your work’s cookie swap. Just try not to eat them all in one night.

In case you didn’t see A Christmas Decorating Extravaganze {Pt 1}

In case you didn’t see the beginnings of our Christmas tree.

Happy Christmas week.