I can't believe 2009 is over. Really. I've heard so many times that the older you get the faster time goes by, but wow. I never really believed it until recently. Remember 10 years ago when everyone thought the world was going to end? I've been trying to recall how I was celebrating the new millennium a decade ago. I can't recall, which I scarily think has something to do with the aforementioned *older* part.

I love dreaming of glitzy New Year's Eve parties. The sparkles, the lovely dresses, the champagne. Sigh. When I ran across this beautiful image, my imagination went crazy with a silver and gold New Year's. So.Lovely.

Wouldn't this tablescape be perfect for the celebration?

Oh and these clocks are so perfect and festive.

I, of course, would be wearing this dress.

And, since I'm dreaming, I would also arrive at the party with this masterpiece that I'd whipped up that afternoon. Because it screams special occasion. And, I love that.

So, do tell. How will you be celebrating New Year's Eve?


post holiday

Did you all have a good Christmas?

We could not have had a lovelier Christmas. We are incredibly blessed by our amazing families and friend alike and we had an amazing few days. Now, as always after the holiday, I feel a little blah. All the excitement and festivities of the past month have left me a little deflated and yearning for something a little simpler and peaceful.

Amidst all the cleaning and relaxing, I've been enjoying a new group on Flickr: you should check it out soon. The spaces are completely inspiring.

**amazing photo from the home flickr stream. via Rachel Hickling**


merry christmas!

I can't believe Christmas is almost here! I'm baking pies and finishing wrapping gifts and then we have two days filled with wonderful family.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas full of love, contentment, gratitude and lots and lots of laughter.

**image via Zero Discipline**

home made goodies

A couple weeks ago I gave you a preview of my crafty Christmas project: homemade bags filled with a homemade goodies. Attached to each gift, the bags would hopefully make the gift look extra specially cute, and make the recipient feel extra special.

Here are the bags . . .

. . . they serve as the gifts *gift tag*.

And here is the homemade goody . . .

. . . Peppermint bark. Oh yumm-o. And, so easy.

Dark chocolate. Check.
White chocolate. Check.
Swirly goodness.
Peppermint candy. Check.

Once the bags and bark were made, I had a fun time assembling.

A few pieces of bark went into a little cellophane baggy that I picked up at a local craft store. The customized labels are so adorable. I picked them up from Vanessa Cavaco Designs, and they are perfect.

See? So festive.

All lined up and waiting to be stuffed.

Final product.

Love how they add a special touch to the gift. Just what I was looking for!


Christmas baking

Every year growing up I looked forward to my grandmother's Christmas cookies. My grandmother's baking was perfection. Before she died, my mom and I picked up the tradition and every year we dedicated a day, or two, to baking.

I teased you with a preview a couple days ago, so here are a few of the cookies we made this year.

Shortbread cookies filled with lemon curd. So good.

Caramel, pecan and chocolate. Need I say more?

Chocolate crackle cookies. Rich, chocolaty and simply divine.

And, my favorite. They are simple frosted sugar cookies, but I love them for a couple reasons. 1. They could NOT be easier to make. 2. They taste amazing.

Super adorable cut into Christmas shapes.

I am not a cookie decorator. Mostly because I'm lazy. I'm sure if I took some time, I could create all sorts of great designs. As it is though, Christmas is really busy and I always run out of time.

Would you like to make these for yourself? They'd be great for any holiday . . . you could make cute snowflakes or party hats or 1's and 0's for New Year's Eve!

*Twinkly Star Cutouts*
**The original recipe is from a Better Homes and Gardens holiday magazine, but I can't find it online**

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
3 cups flour
1/4 cup milk (for glaze)
4 cups powdered sugar (for glaze)

- Preheat oven to 375.
- With an electric mixer, beat butter until really soft, about 30 seconds.
- Add sugar and mix until combined.
- Add egg and mix until combined.
- Add flour and stir or mix until flour is just combined.
- On a well floured surface, roll dough until 1/8" thick. Cut with cute cookie cutters, and put on cookie sheet.
- Bake for 6-8 minutes. Cookies should be just slightly turning brown.
- Let cookies cool completely before frosting.

- For frosting, mix powdered sugar and milk to form glaze. Add additional milk, in tablespoons, until glaze reaches spreadable consistency. At this point, I split the glaze in half and add food coloring to both batches.
- Using a spoon or piping back, decorate each cookie.
- Let cookies sit until glaze hardens. Keep in airtight container. Once dry, they are stackable.

Do you guys bake at Christmas? What are some of your favorites? Are there other Christmas traditions you cherish?


Christmas decor

While I'm not by any means a photographer, I do know that flash is bad. Bad, bad and more bad. So to get photos of our Christmas scheme, I had to wait till I was home during the daylight. Is it sad that it took a week to make that happen? These are still a little gloomy because 1. I'm not a photographer (did I already mention that?) and 2. It's pretty gloomy in Oregon in the winter. Not a lot of sunlight happens around these parts in December.

But enough with the jabbering. Let me take you on a tour of our holiday-home-festiveness.

As I mentioned earlier, I wanted our decor this year to be red and simple.

I also leaned more towards natural elements, because I just like them! Above, holly and evergreen adorn the mantle with a touch of sparkly candles for fun. And, look the large green *M* actually fits in with the color-scheme! This is not something it can claim the rest of the year.

I also found pine cones in a batch of old potpourri. Now, they're a lovely festive shade of silver.

I added touches of red throughout the living room: pillows, ribbon and a few ornaments hanging from our curtain rods. And, look! The paper whites are doing their job nicely.

Our tree! White lights, silver topper and lots of red and silver ornaments tie it all into the room's scheme.

For the last few years, I've been promising myself that I would make a new tree skirt. Um yeah, this is a super intimidating project for some reason. The skirt here? On super sale at Williams-Sonoma last January. Love it.

We're not theme-tree people. My favorite part of Christmas is the traditions. So, we decorate the tree with our favorite ornaments from growing up, plus new ornaments that mean something to both of us. Top left, our first *married couple* ornament; top right, beautiful gold globe from my childhood; bottom right, hand-crocheted ornament from my mother's hometown Scandinavian festival; bottom left, of course a Starbucks ornament. The last one is two-fold: I bought it when I worked there, but now, as a couple, we're there more than either would like to admit.

In the kitchen, things are even more simple. A touch of holly and pine on the counter.

Touches of red near the stove.

Hope you enjoyed the tour as much as I enjoyed preparing it for you!


let the festivities begin!

I love love love the week leading up to Christmas. There are just so many fun family and friends activities. Last year at this time we were snowed in. All fun holiday activities were canceled and it was not.fun.at.all.

So this year I have been soaking in all my family and friend time and not taking anything for granted. This weekend was full of all the things that make this time of year special: parties, shopping, wrapping, lots and lots of laughing and Christmas music.

To start the weekend off right, I helped my mom throw my dad's annual employee Christmas party. While this might not sound like all that much fun, I actually love this because: 1. I get to help organize an event, 2. These people are f.u.n. 3. It's super early in the evening and we had a fun friend party after.

I thought I'd share with you some shots of the party scene. We had a lot of fun planning and making sure everything was beautiful and fabulous tasting.

I know this isn't new, but it's always so beautiful. Lemons, limes and cranberries. They not only make the water look beautiful, but it tastes so darn good.

The buffet table. Not sure why the forks are the focus, they aren't that exciting. But, instead of just having silverware loose to pick up, I like to keep it contained, so people can grab and go. In this instance, forks and knifes are contained in adorable tall snowman mugs.

My mom has the most adorable Christmas dishes. Each plate has a different line of the *Twas the Night Before Christmas*.

Cheese and cracker plate. I added these little craft paper signs to id all the different types of cheese. Super easy and added a ton of character to the plate.

Dessert = Christmas Cookies. Our annual cooking baking tradition is an upcoming post.

Um, yum. Frosted sugar cookies.

My mom is an amazing decorator. I've learned so much from her over the years. I loved this centerpiece she put together for the dining room table. Tulips + holly + swedish pillar candles = perfection in my mind.


inspired: christmas decor

Before I show off our lovely Christmas decorations, I thought I'd give you a sneak peek into my inspirations and motivations.

First, nothing says Christmas to me like red. To some this may seem a little closed-minded. I've seen so many beautiful Christmas scenes this year with a variety of color schemes: all white, blues, vintage pinks, tropical, etc. I can appreciate these choices and I even think they're lovely in other people's homes, but to me, my house isn't festive unless there is lots of red, with touches of green, white and silver thrown in for good measure.

Second, is to keep things simple. In case it isn't obvious in pictures, our house is t.i.n.y. Too much decor quickly overwhelms the space. So we try to create a balance between festive and calm.

Below are some of the images that have completely inspired me on my decorating quest this season.

Rustic and natural. Simply and quite lovely.

So pretty. All white and glowy: what an amazing way to add a festive glow to a room.

Drooling over this mantle arrangement.

I sort of love this idea. It's eye-catching and festive in a completely non-traditional way.

My idea of holiday serenity.

Yes, please. Love the colors. And, just the touch of sparkle.

I love this idea - picture it with red and white, or red and lime green felt. It would look great garnishing mantles, bookshelves, or even your tree.

And, oh these paper snowflakes make my heart sing! Maybe Chris and I can have activity time this weekend :).

**images via Martha, House Beautiful, Eddie Ross, Design Sponge & Bugs and Fishes**

In my head . . .

I can't get this song out of my head!
But, I have to admit, I don't really mind. I heart Pearl Jam.

Have any of you heard the whole album? Is it as amazing as this song?


holiday peak

We're so close to being finished decorating for the holiday. Our tree went up Sunday!
So, once I'm home during the daylight, I'll snap a few shots to share our festive-ness with all you.

Until then, this is my favorite scene in the house, so far.


calendar giveaway

Happy Monday!
Hope you all had a great weekend. Mine was FULL of lovely Christmas activities. I love this time of year.

Just want to let you all know about the fantastic day planner giveaway over at Cecily Ink's blog.

This planner is simply amazing. All the illustrations are hand-drawn and then scanned to add color, texture, etc.

My favorite? August. And, not just because it's my birthday.

So, this planner is not being sold either online or in stores. But two lucky people will win their own - one for you and one for me, right??

Enter HERE.
Check out all the amazing illustrations HERE.