Farewell, 2013!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 has only a few precious hours left before it's gone forever and a new year begins, full of hope and promises and the unknown. Our 2013 brought so many changes: in fact, we spent the better part of the year in a season of change.

But you know what? As much as change unsettles me, it is a necessary part of life and a part that can make you grow more than anything else. Alex and I have a stronger marriage now, on this last day of the year, than we did on January 1. And I wouldn't have wanted to be alongside anyone else in the world for this year! I love that man and I'm so thankful for all the blessings we were shown in 2013. 

I am ready for the next year. What will it bring? No matter what, I'll have my best friend at my side and I know I don't have to go it alone, through good or bad. 

Here's to you, 2013 - and to your successor. 

Wishing you all a 2014 full of blessings, good health, prosperity and - because I now know it's a good thing - a little bit of change.

Repurposing Christmas decorations in our new home

Monday, December 16, 2013

You're tired of hearing me lament about moving this summer - I know. Even I'm tired of it.

But a whole new challenge - of the fun variety - presented itself when we got the Christmas decorations of the attic a few weeks ago. All of our decor had been purchased for the house we no longer own: a house that has a much different floorplan and is about 65 years younger than our new house. 

There are the decorating basics that pretty much everyone has: a Christmas tree, stockings, a wreath for the door. Those are easy to transfer to a new space. But the things that were bought specifically because of the features of the old house require a little more creativity. 

1. The Christmas Tree
This was an easy one, although the situation isn't as perfect as it was in our last house. We always get a real tree, and of course, real trees require access to the base for watering. Our old house had a perfect nook for a tree - like, I seriously think this nook was specifically designed for a Christmas tree - in front of a window in the living room. It allowed plenty of room for watering and also for presents to be spread under and around it. 

Our new house is much older, and doesn't have creative little nooks or conveniently-placed electrical outlets every 4 feet. But we made it work, and it looks pretty good!
Advantage: old house

2. The Garland
Our old house was two stories and had a staircase that opened to the foyer, which was perfect for a lighted garland. Our new house is single-story with nary a handrail in sight. But, lucky for me, our new house has three mantles, prime for some Christmas cheer!
Advantage: tie! 


3. The Stockings and Mantle
Our old house had a gas fireplace and a nook for a TV above the mantle, which was convenient and saved us from having to buy another piece of furniture. But our new house wins this category, with a wood-burning fireplace and a brick mantle. I love the character is has, and especially love it all decked out for Christmas!
Advantage: new house



4. The "Fun" Tree
We have a second, smaller tree that has all of our random ornaments on it that we've collected over the years. For example, I used to collect snowmen and I have a lot of really cute snowmen ornaments that don't match the big tree theme, but I love them on our fun tree! These are really the ornaments that mean a lot to us, because they have so many memories.

In our old house, we had a landing upstairs that was in front of a picture window, so you could see the tree from the street. Our new house has a sunroom that has windows on all sides, from which you can also see the tree from the street.
Advantage: Tie!


The bottom line? I love both houses, and our Christmas decorations have made them feel equally jolly and festive. And truly, if you have joy in your heart, the decorations are just icing on the cake!

Monthly Challenge: December

Saturday, December 7, 2013

It's here, the last month of the year: 2013 is almost gone! But I still have time for one last challenge to myself. 

I've had some really great monthly challenges this year: like January when I went on a purging and organizing rampage, and March when I started the Couch to 5k program. And then there were a few months that my challenge was selling our house, moving, buying a house and finding a new job (i.e., I didn't give myself an additional challenge). 

This month, I wanted to combine some of my favorite challenges of the year into a bigger challenge:

  1. Floss every day (this will change your life, y'all. 30 days of a routine makes it a habit!)
  2. Track my calories every day (and actually complete the entry)
  3. Remember to add my Advent Calendar ornament to the Advent Tree every day (that's a new one, ha!)

What challenges have you given yourself this year? 

Celebrating Advent with a DIY Advent Calendar

Friday, December 6, 2013

[A few days late, but Happy Advent, y'all!]

Last Christmas season, I made up my mind that I was going to make a Pottery Barn-esque Advent Calendar, much like this:

And I spent roughly the first 10 days of Advent trying to find the perfect ornaments to complete the look. So it morphed into more of a 12 days of Christmas calendar.

Anyway - the point is that I finally found the right ornaments and this year, I actually got to start on the actual first day of Advent putting the ornaments on my designated little Advent tree!

Here's the finished product:
My knock-off Advent calendar

and the little tree the ornaments go on!

It's really easy to make, and inexpensive if you're careful not to let the ornaments add up!
You'll need:

  • a small/medium cork board (mine is about 2 feet tall)
  • burlap
  • staple gun
  • seamstress pins with pearls on the end
  • blank gift tags (found in the paper or card making section at Michaels)
  • 24 small ornaments, each different
  • Small tree (or you can hang the ornaments on your regular tree!)
Staple the burlap around the cork board (BONUS: you can use the burlap-covered cork board year round for pictures, notes, etc!). Write numbers 1-24 on the blank gift tags. Carefully lay out the tags so that they will be evenly spaced on the board. Attach them loosely with the pins through the holes in the tags. Hang a small ornament on each pin. Proudly display your Advent calendar and remember to put an ornament on the tree each day! 

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