Christmas Traditions: Part I

I love this time of year. More than presents and cold weather (although hell yes), I love the emphasis on traditions and family. Since I got married, and much more since Jack was born, I’ve been thinking of what traditions I want to continue as our family moves forward.

There are, of course, the traditions you do on Christmas day and the ones that you do prior in anticipation of the holiday. The former is too far ahead for me to be thinking of at the moment, but the latter is perfect for the weeks leading up to the big day.

Lifetime movies– This is something I do with my mom and sister (the husband isn’t as keen on this genre, surprisingly). What better way to get in the mood for Christmas than cheesy festive movies that always end happily? Add in some seasonal food and a roaring fire, and you’ve got yourself an instant Christmas season.

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Dancing to Christmas music– Be still my heart. My little boy has developed a strong love for swaying to Christmas ballads in his mama’s arms. Only better is when he tries to hold my hand while doing so.

Picking out a tree– When I was younger my father refused to get a real Christmas tree, arguing that my asthma would be terrible with the tree inside the house. Whether it was actually because of that or whether he just didn’t want to dole out money every year is still something I need to discuss with my therapist, but thankfully my asthma has gotten better and Glenn also enjoys the fresh smell of pine in our home. Going out to pick out our tree as a family has definitely become an integral part of preparing for the season.

Traumatizing my child– We’ve added visiting Santa to the lineup since Jackson’s arrival in 2015. He wasn’t too thrilled to meet the big man this year, but it made for a hilarious timeless photo.

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Yearly Christmas ornaments: Growing up, we always got an ornament that depicted something special that happened to us throughout the year. While I love them, I much prefer the metal ornaments with pictures for Jackson. So far I have one of his newborn picture and the two subsequent fall photos we’ve taken at 4 months and 1 year. This way I’ll have a visual representation of him throughout the years.

Christmas cards: Ever the mail junkie, I am mentally compelled to send these pretty pieces of Christmas joy. It’s fantastic enough getting regular letters, Christmas cards are 100x better.

 

I’m still thinking of other ways to incorporate the season into daily life during this month. It’s especially hard with work, but it’s such a fantastic time of year that I can’t possibly think of letting it pass so quickly.

All The Lovely Things: Forget Monday- Jazz Clubs, Wine, and Chocolate

Another weekend come and gone, and we’re staring ahead at another week. Fear not, dear friends, let’s think of nicer things instead.

During a quick drop in at Sephora to peruse their perfume section, I was introduced to a new line of perfume. It’s interesting, in a word. The perfumes are almost exact replicas of various scents: Beach Walk, By The Fireplace, At The Barber’s. They were absolutely incredible, the Beach Walk smelled like every summer day you spent at the waves, but I wasn’t quite sold until I smelled Jazz Club. It is the perfect blend of leather, cigars, and spice. Overall, it’s a far cry from my usual preference of floral and citrus notes, but it’s truly that mind blowing. Even now, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I am intoxicated by it.

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Replica, Jazz Club

As the days have gotten darker and colder, I’ve also found myself constantly thinking about chocolate shortbread. Random? Yes. Delicious? Oh hell yes.

Now, normally I would just jump on amazon and purchase whatever my heart desired, but apparently there are not a lot of outlets for this specific craving. I know, sad day. Instead, I think I’ll look forward to making these this upcoming weekend.

Look at these intense, buttery, crumbly bites.

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Double Dark Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

And what goes better with chocolate cookies than wine?

Nothing. The answer is nothing.

On a recent trip to Carlsbad for a staycation, I stumbled upon the Witch Creek Winery. Guys. Guys. GUYS. Can I just say that the most incredible friend date ever would be to have a wine tasting trip up in Julian just for the purpose of having their wine on my lips again?

Oh, what?  A little too intense? Oops, sorry.

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Witch Creek Winery

I totally stole this picture from their Yelp reviews. My picture was in no way as pretty, mostly because I had already drank most of my glass before I even thought to bring the camera out.

And finally, some easy music with which to start your week. Honestly, it’s the kind of music I imagine on a Friday night, but I’m not yet in the mindset to fully accept that it’s not the weekend still.

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Brett Bixby, Fireside

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All The Lovely Things: Thanksgiving Edition

If you couldn’t tell from my last post- November is the interim of the Fall to Winter scene. Fall is already over in my mind and I’m already dreaming of Christmas lights and cold nights, so Thanksgiving isn’t really a holiday I’ve ever put a lot of effort into. That said, there are a lot of gorgeous things surrounding a holiday that brings family and friends together, and it’s high time that to take a moment and appreciate it.

Our Thanksgivings has always focused on family and food, but there are some gorgeous decorations for those who take a little more time in setting the scene. This place setting is simple and beautiful, and provides a place to be privately thoughtful.

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If you’re looking for something other than a traditional bottle of wine or flowers for the host gift, this hand towel is so frickin cute I can’t stand it.

pumpkin-pie-dish-towelPumpkin Pie Dishtowel

And because it’s not Thanksgiving without food…

It’s driving me mad that I can’t find a proper recipe (*cough* pictures) for a pastry wrapped baked brie with tart cherries. I could have sworn I originally found the recipe on one of my usual cooking sites, but after searching I think I actually just adapted it from a recipe on Dinner: A Love Story.

Sigh.

Okay.

Here’s a gorgeous picture of a fancy schmacy baked brie. It includes some ingredients that I may or may not have a hard time imagining in brie, but are likely stunning if you took the time to actually put it together. Also, look at the picture (ooooh).

brie-1Baked Brie with Rosemary, Honey, and Toasted Almonds

And here is the original recipe for a cherry galette. Ignore the home made pie crust (hahaha-nope) and just use some puff pastry. Then plop a wheel of brie in this bad boy and I promise all your hopes and dreams will come true. (I fully realize it is no longer the same recipe aside from the use of one specific ingredient, but bear with my line of thinking. [Some kind of] Pastry? Check. Tart Cherries? Check. Totally the same.) It is an amazing, gooey, delightful mess. Stunning and perfect for the increasingly chill fall weather.

brie-2Cherry Galette – Money in the Bank

Now Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Program

I’ve been meaning to post for weeks now, but a series of weddings, Halloween events, and other weekly distractions have definitely taken their toll. Until today, I’ve honestly just felt completely done- worn out and just wanting to do the bare minimum for a while.

Okay, I still feel that way a little bit.

Don’t get me wrong, everything that I’ve done over the past two months has been superbly wonderful- but all in quick succession was a little too much. Thankfully, things are finally quieting down… for a while.

While Thanksgiving and Glenn’s birthday is next week, both will be pretty muted since he’s on an ass kicking diet and isn’t feeling up to really celebrating either. So I have a solid 15 days of luxury and laziness before the Christmas season gets in full swing. I could wait until halfway through December, too, but we all know I’m not that kind of girl. So, until then- these are the things I’m planning on doing (as lazily as possible):

Watch the Gilmore Girls, “A Year in the Life”. I am ridiculously pumped for this. Glenn and I bonded over many things over the years, but the Gilmore Girls is definitely something of “ours.” We’ve re-watched the season every fall since we got married. It’s like a really weird, oddly specific thing that we both enjoy.

Cleaning my house. Because dear lord I have not had time to deep clean, and between the holiday decorations and the weekend trips it’s been in a pretty consistent state of disarray.

Um…

That’s all I got.

Yea, I’m not really good at not doing things.

Okay, you got me. I’m already in stage 2 of the Christmas Enjoyment Scale- “Planning and Purchasing”. This is, of course, of the obvious and universally known 5 point Christmas Enjoyment Scale (CES). I’ve already surpassed stage one, “Pinning,” and have gone on to blow out bank account buying presents and decorations. Poor Glenn.

Until December 1st, this is all just in good fun. I can peruse possible gifts and find little pieces for the home here and there to give it that warm, cozy winter feel (despite the fact that it’s still reaching 80 degrees outside), but nothing is mandatory in my mind just yet.

I can stop whenever I want to, I swear.

That said, be forewarned that most of my posts in the next month and a half will likely revolve around the holiday to some degree. I mean, what is life if not a celebration, right?

Halloween Movie Night

The weekend is finally upon us! I’m not sure about you all, but man this week was long. I’m in desperate need of a load of family time and relaxation. Thankfully, we don’t have any strict plans for our days off, so I’m going to soak up every moment with my favorite people. Jackson’s aunt is in town, so we’re going to have a lot of fun hanging out and celebrating the upcoming holiday while she’s here.

This Saturday, we’re planning on having a Halloween Movie Night. Since we have young children in the audience (and totally not because two of us are scaredy cats), we’re making the night family friendly. I’ve found that just a little bit of planning really makes small things like this that much more novel and memorable, so I’ve been thinking of little ways to make it more fun.

The Duds
Carters had a sale a few weeks ago in which I bought the kiddos some Halloween clothes (and their annual Christmas pj’s), so they will finally be able to show off their new threads. It’s all about the fashion, people.

Jackson will be wearing his aptly suited, “Jack” O’Latern shirt.

pumpkinJack O’Latern Shirt

While I will be wearing my similarly appropriate tee:

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Here for the Boos Tee

The Grub

I have been craving a caramel apple like no[boo]dy’s business*, but I can’t find them anywhere (seriously, where do you find these?). Thankfully, the all mighty Pinterest saves the day again.

This recipe for caramel apple nachos is a heck of a lot easier than melting and dunking a bunch of whole apples. Plus- heath bars and chocolate! Can’t go wrong.

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Caramel Apple Nachos

For the grown ups in the group, I’m considering making this gorgeous Halloween sangria. We’re having a party coming up where I’ll be making a big batch of a spooky adult beverage, so it would be good planning (and not at all self serving) to try this out before then.

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Halloween Sangria

The Shows

I sent out a list of Halloween titles for the ladies of the family to choose from or let me know if they wanted another. I included one that I specifically wanted to watch, but left out another because I felt it was too kidish. Thankfully, Auntie O is as much as a child as I am and she called to let me know this other movie must be included.

So, in true 90’s kid Halloween fashion, we will be watching…

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And, of course

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In the end, this is definitely a low key night. But I get joy from little things, so I’m completely looking forward to introducing a little more of the season in an otherwise common activity. Hopefully as the babies get older, they get the same sense of magic that I love about this season.

*I’m sorry, I can’t help myself. It’s a curse, really.

All The Lovely Things: Halloween Goodies

You guys, the most wonderful time of the year is so close I can taste it. Starbucks just released their cult-following pumpkin spice latte (blegh), Michaels has put out their Halloween decor, and Pier 1 just released their Halloween Collection (solely as a means to tease me I’m sure).

I promised myself I wouldn’t buy anything extra this year, as Glenn complains yearly about the 10 boxes of Halloween items in our attic. But I am still dreaming about all of these.

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Spiderweb Tiered Server

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Carved Jack-o’-Lantern Tree

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Pre-Lit Jack-o’-Lantern

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Jack-o’-Lantern Snowglobe

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Pumpkin Soap Pump

PS: Damnit Williams-Sonoma, don’t you start me with too. I would straight up cry to receive this

Update: Sorry Glenn, I couldn’t help myself

Happily Ever After- Tootsie’s Paris Tea Bridal Shower

We recently celebrated my dear friend Tootsie’s impending wedding with a Paris themed bridal shower. Tootsie, knowing me all too well, asked for a very specific direction (Paris, Purple) and let me run with it. Over the course of several weeks I planned and re-planned, debating which details would work to make the day magical for her and fun for everyone included. I love her and I love planning parties, so this was pretty much my favorite past time for a while.

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In the end, the party went in a (very) loosely themed Paris tea direction. The bride to be had originally wanted to take tea, but when plans fell through I knew I had to implement as much as this theme into her direction as possible.
However, August in Southern California is really not conducive to tea drinking, and I couldn’t imagine trying to serve those poor ladies tea in 90 degree heat. Instead, I tried to implement other aspects that would give it that high tea feel with a French twist.
In lieu of tea I went with a champagne bar, which not only adds the fun of bubbly but customized bubbly. Like tea if tea were alcoholic, cold, and fizzy. This was especially popular with the ladies, despite its lack of tea-ness.
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Rather than the traditional scones and cucumber sandwiches, I served croissant sandwiches, bite-sized sweets, and strawberry and Nutella crepes on tiered tea trays. (The madeleines, despite  being made a la Costco since I am a planner and not a baker, were nonetheless my favorite treat of the bunch.)
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To decorate, I went with a black and white damask-eque design and put bright pops of purple to lighten it all up. The tiered tea trays (holding my delicious madeleines) were made from Dollar Store parts, spray painted, and glued together. I was especially pleased with how these came out, since I wasn’t quite sure I had used the right adhesive. Other items included rhinestones, sparkly Eiffel towers, and some hand written signs to give it a more personalized charm.
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In the end, I was very pleased how everything came together. You never quite know how it will look until the day of, and thankfully it worked out well.

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The bride to be was greeted at the door with a black lacy sash and a dozen of her best friends. We ate and drank and talked for hours. One of the bridesmaids hosted two games which completely made the party. I wish I had gotten pictures, but I was laughing far too hard to care. From hanging panties to blushing toilet paper clad brides, everyone had a fantastically fun time.
Tootsie seemed to really enjoy herself, as did everyone else. After all the planning and decorating, it really just comes down to the people you surround yourself with. Everything else is just extra hidden pockets of beauty in this extraordinary life.

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Delicious Words

“when we broke the surface again the first thing I saw was the great bold strip of the Milky Way painted across the heavens, and it occurred to me that together the fish and the stars formed a complete system, coincident parts of some ancient and mysterious whole” – Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Summer Days

Being a southern Californian, it is near heresy to admit that I’m not super fond of summer.

I know, I know. I’m sorry.

That said, there are certain days when everything is just perfect. These days are so much more common when you’re at the beach.

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Last Sunday we packed Jackson, a picnic, and lots of sunscreen and headed to the shores. We got there fairly early, and despite being August in the middle of vacation central, the beaches weren’t that packed (trust me, this was amazing).

After quickly settling our spot, Jackson, his grandma and I headed down to the shoreline. This child LOVES the beach (especially eating the sand) . He also has zero fear, so we made sure to keep a close eye (and constant hand) on him as every  other minute he’d try to dart out into the waves.

It was so fun to watch him. He laughed as the water came over his feet. He splashed and grabbed at seaweed passing by. He watched intently as seashells tumbled along the sand as the tide pulled back in. Again and again, like there was nothing else to do except just be there.

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After a good hour of playing at the edge of the tide, we went back to the tent to have a little lunch and take a break from the heat. Grandma gave Jackson his bottle and they hung out in the shade as Glenn and I went out into the waves.

With the sun warming our backs, we gasped as the cold water hit us higher and higher and laughed as the waves knocked us over. I haven’t been in the ocean like that for years and, at the risk of sounding completely cheesy, it was honestly freeing in a way I haven’t felt in a while. I wasn’t thinking about what else I had to do that day, I was just feeling all the different sensations- the hot sun, the cold water, the taste of salt, the graininess of the sand. It pulled me out of my head and let me enjoy that moment.

That night all of us slept soundly; that deep sleep that only comes from a full day of having fun out in the sun.

That’s the beauty of summer that I have been missing.