Holiday House Tour

TGIF friends!

This is my last day at work before Winter Break.

I actually checked the last item off my to do list yesterday afternoon, so should have a low key day of housekeeping in the office.

I'm excited to share a holiday house tour with you today.

I find myself decorating less every year. I focus on the quality over quantity and give the most attention to our living and dining room which makes the most impact.

So without futher adieu, come on in!

I've made ornament wreaths year after year (DIY here), but they always inevitably end breaking before the next Christmas, so this year I used this store bought version I bought my first year of college to decorate my dorm room!

Once inside, we'll start with the living room which is the first room you enter through the front door.

We've moved our tree around quite a bit over the years and put it int his spot for the first time last year and it's a winner! It's in a focal spot being right next to the fireplace and stockings, but is tucked away enough that it doesn't feel overly intrusive.

I frequently get asked the source of our stockings, and they are from Mark & Graham. They don't appear online anymore, but I'm guessing they're just out of stock. They do have them year after year, though! The mirror (c/o) can be found here and trumpet vases here.

This zebra pillow remains a favorite year after year and I love him so much I usually keep him out through January! I'm also late to the party, but discovered the goodness of Nest "Holiday" this year!

This nook is so cozy! I bought the little "Merry Christmas Y'all" pillow our first Christmas dating and it makes me smile every time I see it! All those beautiful Christmas cards of family and friends make me smile, too!

This vignette sadly isn't quite what I'd like it to be. Paper whites are planted in the cachepot but have yet to bloom! I planted them in a clear vase last year and had great luck. Tried the blue and white this year and while they've sprouted a bit, I'm worried they're not going to fully bloom. So just picture this image with beautiful paper whites!

Next up is the dining room, which I brightened up this year with a pretty pink poinsettia! I think it suits the new dining room decor!

This reindeer that was a Michael's find continues to be a favorite year after year.

I couldn't resist adding a little holiday cheer to the bar. Santa looks ready to tie one on!

There are a few Christmas touches throughout other rooms, I'll share, but as mentioned I make things more and more simple every year!

This wooden tree was a fun find at the VMFA after Christmas a couple years ago. My favorite part is that it comes apart into two pieces that lay flat for storage!

 How adorable is this black lab pillow my mom got us this year? I cut the tag off and try as I might have not been able to track him down online!

And last but not least, our kitchen got some holiday cheer!

What's your Christmas decorating style? All out or simple? 

Traditional or funky?

Have a great weekend!


Last Minute Prime Gift Guide

Happy December 18, friends!





Are you ready?

As mentioned last week, we've got a little bit of wrapping left and still need to get our Christmas cards out. I ordered through Minted, a little later than intended, and our cards were supposed to arrive yesterday. Well, last night I got an email saying they were delayed 1-2 days. According to tracking, they should arrive by 10:30 am today; and while I'm disappointed, I have to say Minted is handling this in the best way possible. They refunded all shipping charges and also refunded me 30% of the order total. Fingers crossed they make it today so I can get them signed, sealed, delivered!

I decided last week it would be fun to put together one more bonus gift guide: a Last Minute Amazon Prime Gift Guide! Being that Amazon Prime is all about practicality, I figured I'd make the focus on practical gifts. Being 30 now, I find myself feeling very adult (tehehe) and wanting practical more and more. As always, most of these are things I currently own and love, or things I would want for myself. Just as I did with my other guides, I've included commentary about each item below the guide.

And if you haven't yet, be sure to check out my other 2 gifts guides. There are Prime picks in both, and many other items that are still available, on sale, and guaranteed for holiday delivery:

Salad Spinner: How did I live 28 years without a salad spinner? This salad spinner is one of our most used wedding gifts. I absolutely hate cleaning salad greens, because it's so hard to get them dry after and this spinner makes it a breeze!
Festive Dog Collar: This holiday plaid collar is so cute! The brand is Up Country and Millie has had this zebra one and matching leash (not available thru Prime), since she graduated from her little pink puppy collar. It has been on her swimming in the river, through mud, and more and is still in great shape. 
Rosebud Lip Balm: This lip balm has been in my gift guides year after year and for good reason. I've been using it for probably 10 years now and always have this tube in my purse, and the jar on my nightstand.
L'occitane Hand Cream: Good hand cream is a necessity during the cold winter months and this cream is so decadent, and doesn't leave your palms feeling greasy or clammy (my pet peeve with most hand lotions).
Amazon Fire Stick: My dad gifted us one of these years ago and we use it almost exclusively when watching TV...we really do need to cancel our cable. You can get so many streaming apps through it, and we use it to stream Pandora whenever we want to play music, as well. Bonus points if you gift an Amazon Prime membership with it.
Fitbit: Bryce just purchased a Fitbit on Cyber Monday and has been loving it. The new ones sync with your phone for texts and the sleep tracking has been motivating us both to get more shut eye.
Dry Shampoo: I've tried several different dry shampoos, at both high and low price points, and this one is hands down the BEST! It also has a nice fresh scent that isn't overpowering. I'd love for my stocking to be stuffed with Perfect Hair Day!
Coravin Wine System: This has been high on my personal wish list ever since seeing blogger Being Bridget rave about it on Instagram (see her Stories tutorial here). She's had hers for 6 years and it enables you to pour a glass of wine without unsealing the cork...meaning you could make a bottle last for months! Perfect for nights when Bryce is having a beer and I want just a glass of wine.
Champagne Stopper: If a Coravin is out of your price range, this champagne stopper is a great stocking stuffer to help extend the life of your bubbly!
Garlic Peeler: We eat A LOT of garlic and this little tool is so handy! It enables you to peel garlic with just a quick roll, avoiding the smell that can get stuck in your nails when trying to peel by hand. Great stocking stuffer!
Herb Scissors: Another favorite kitchen tool that I actually included in my Ladies Gift Guide last year. Herbs can be difficult to chop and these scissors make it quick and easy. The only time I bother to actually chop now is when I'm preparing herbs to look pretty as a garnish. 
Fatwood: We burn a lot of wood fires all winter. In fact, I may need to do another ladie's fire building tutorial on Stories now that I can create it as a highlight reel. Fatwood is key to getting a good fire going. Speaking of fires, not Amazon Prime, but this log carrier is one of Bryce's favorite Christmas gifts I've given him, and comes with free 2-day shipping if you order by December 20!
Cordless Vacuum: One of my favorite bloggers is Megan of Holy City Chic. She raves about this vacuum for clean up in between deep vacuuming; and swears it's far better than its Dyson counterpart which is much more pricey. It also has a handheld detachable vacuum. When my parents were asking for gift ideas for Bryce, I was tempted to tell them he really wanted this, haha! I think I may buy it with some Christmas money.
Pasta Measuring Fork: I have a very similar pasta fork, which try as I might I couldn't find online anywhere! What I love about it is that the holes are used for measuring spaghetti servings. I never know how much to cook, so it's very useful. This little tool also does the same job.
Handbag Organizer: I ordered this when my Goyard arrived this fall and absolutely love it. It's the perfect size for any large tote bag, and keeps me so organized while also protecting the liner of my bag from stains. You can see how it fits inside my Goyard GM here (similar size to LV Neverful MM or Longchamp Large Les Pliages), and what I love about the size is that there's still room in my bag for a laptop, book, gym clothes, etc around the organizer.
Room Freshener: I love to spray this on our mattress and pillows when changing the sheets. It would be great to spray on linens in a guest room, as well, to make a room that doesn't get used so often smell fresh.
Moleskin Notebook: Day to day at work, I tend to use small notepads and legal pads, but always have a Moleskin handy for when I'm going to a Board meeting or donor meeting where I want to come across as a little more professional. Love the blue color!
Mini Steamer: This is another top pick from our wedding registry! I don't iron. The 2-3 times a year I need something ironed, I have Bryce do it. This gets me through the rest of the year and is the perfect size for travel. It heats up in a flash, and also helps me to extend wear of items between dry cleans.
Hanky Panky Set: It doesn't get much more practical than underwear for Christmas and Hanky Pankys have been my very favorite undies for years. Love this colors in this "Something Blue" trio.
Greek Key Doormat: I always use a coir doormat- they're durable and stylish. This Greek key style is a classic that will match just about any decor. 
Boxer Briefs: Those who follow along on Instastories have heard all the hype about these boxer briefs. In fact they're the ONLY thing Bryce asked for this year! Would be perfectly practical for the hard to shop for man.
Table Topics: My mother-in-law has these and they're so fun for dinner parties or just family get togethers to energize the conversation. I might even order them for Bryce and I...sometimes we'll take turns asking each other random questions and this would probably make it easier and more interesting.

How is your Christmas shopping coming along?

Are you a fan of practical gifts? 

Will you take advantage of Amazon Prime this holiday season?

Have a great day!


Tips for Holiday Hosting

Happy Monday readers!

8 days...can you believe it? Christmas is nearly here!

Those who follow along on Insta know that we hosted my family for Thanksgiving this year.

While I've had a lot of practice hosting dinner parties, book clubs, and other gatherings, hosting your family for a large holiday meal is a little different. I picked up some tips and tricks this first go around and I thought I'd share today, given that you may be hosting your family in the coming week for a Christmas meal!

These aren't rocket science by any means, but I hope you'll find a tip you've never thought of before in today's post.

Choose your menu with preparation in mind. What I mean by that is to consider: What items can be prepared, or even fully cooked in advance? What are the various temperatures items need to be baked at? How much space is in the fridge for items you prepare in advance or need to be chilled? Are there dietary restrictions to be aware of?

For example, we chose to skip a turkey and the intimidation factor it brings. Instead we opted to get a honey baked ham (pre-sliced) that would just need to be warmed up and to roast a chicken. We also included baked brie as an app, homemade yeast rolls (recipe coming soon!), a brussel sprouts salad (recipe here), sweet potato casserole (recipe here), and French silk pie (recipe here).

The night before, we baked the pies, prepped the sweet potato casserole so all it needed was baking, and also shredded the brussel sprouts. The morning of, we baked the rolls so all they'd need was to be reheated at mealtime; the rest we were able to do in the afternoon before guests arrived at 5:00 pm (a time I chose so we'd have all day to prepare and not feel rushed).

We finalized this menu about 3 weeks in advance and shared it with my family, asking others to also bring a dish to share.

Staging is also key in advance of hosting. We live in a small cape cod, so figuring out seating, traffic flow, and food presentation took a little creativity. The day before we worked through a few different layouts and set the table. 

The first item we tackled was seating. The most we can fit at our dining table is 6, and that's a tight squeeze. We had 9 coming, so opted to flip our dining table lengthwise and add a card table at the end. I set both tables with white linens and a matching table runners to make the tables feel cohesive and put similar flower arrangements in blue and white on both tables. (Speaking of flowers, magnolia is your best friend for holiday arrangements. It is so easy and makes a beautiful statement!)

The next item to think about was bar and appetizer placement. I wanted to avoid too much traffic in the kitchen, as last minute cooking and prep would be happening, so set a bar up in the living room. This doesn't need to be fancy and really any old table will do. Bryce's nightstand is a drop leaf table, so I literally cleared that, brought it downstairs expanding the leaves, and threw a fall tablecloth on top (underneath the fall cloth, I first layered a padded water resistant cloth to protect the wood)! The bar was self serve with wine, lemon water, and some nuts. On the back patio, we had a Yeti cooler stocked with beer, soda, and LaCroix, again self serve.

Given our limited space, I opted to place appetizers on the card table. I staged the 3 place settings for that table in the sun room, as well as the folding chairs. A few minutes before it was time to eat, I simply cleared the apps to the kitchen and was able to quickly set the remaining three places and put the chairs out.

Finally, part of staging is also planning how you'll serve the meal. We opted for a simple buffet in the kitchen. Since we had prepped everything requiring our stand mixer the night before, we hid that in the pantry, and cleared the counter tops as much as possible putting serving platters out the night before. 

Another staging tip is to have a few versatile serving platters pulled out and handy in advance. I keep our serving platters in the corner cabinet of our dining room which was not the most accessible with the Thanksgiving table set up. Knowing that some of the "pot luck" items may need platters, I pulled a few out in advance and had them within reach in our pantry. One item I realized we were short on, in the moment, however was serving utensils! While people will sometimes come prepared with serving platters for the food they bring, many people don't bring serving utensils. We were able to improvise with wooden spoons and such, but I do plan to buy a couple more serving utensils between now and our next holiday hosting.

Have a clean up and leftovers plan. This may be a no brainer, but clean up as much as you can as you prepare the meal and also be sure to have an empty dishwasher in advance of your guests' arrival. One of my tips, that sounds silly, but I've gotten compliments on, is to have a pretty dish towel ready for whatever last minute non-dishwasher safe dishes you may throw in the sink. I didn't do this at Thanksgiving, but at other parties in the past, I've simply draped the dishtowel over the sink to hide the mess from guests. In terms of clean up, Bryce and I don't have a problem leaving dirty dishes in the sink overnight (I know some folks can't sleep if a dish is left in the sink...this is not us!). We typically will do whatever clean up is absolutely necessary at the end of the night (ie: putting food away, loading the dishwasher, soaking dishes, etc), but then will tackle the rest, and putting dishes away in the morning. One of my favorite moments after hosting an event is sitting down on the couch with a glass of wine after clean up!

For leftovers, be sure to buy extra tupperware in advance, or do what I did and send a BYOT (bring your own tupperware!) message to guests in advance of the event. Also make sure you're stocked with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and ziplock bags. It's also good to have a few grocery or shopping bags at the ready in case people need to pack their leftovers.

The final tip is to enjoy yourself! The holidays are all about time spent with family, so do as much prep work in advance, and choose a menu that allows you time outside the kitchen with your guests. And at the end of the day, if you do have a recipe flop or snafu, it makes for a great story!

Have you hosted your family for the holidays?

What are your go to hostessing tips and tricks?

Have a great day!


Friday 5: Holiday Jammies Edition

Happy Friday friends!

T-11 days until Christmas...are you ready?

I'm nearly there: Just waiting on our Christmas cards to arrive so I can send them and gift wrapping. Bryce and I always enjoy wrapping together; believe it or not he makes the best bows! I've finally hit the stage at work, too, where all the preparation for year-end giving is coming together, things are slowing down, and I'm able to see the fruits of my labor. Winter break starts December 21 and I can't wait to have some down time to wrap up 2018!

One final thing I checked off my to-do list was finding a pair of Christmas jammies!

I mentioned in my Ladies Gift Guide (here) that pajamas are one of my favorite gifts to receive and decided to gift myself a festive pair this year. The hard part was choosing...

This set was my top choice, but try as I might I couldn't justify the price tag. Maybe next year? Or an after Christmas sale? They do have sets for the whole family which was tempting (mens here, kids here, pups here). Also love this champagne set by the same brand that would get you through New Year's Eve (have always wanted to host a fancy NYE pajama dinner party)!

Another family friendly, albeit out of my price range, option were these zebra pajamas! Someone please buy these so I can live vicariously through you! (mens here, kids here). Also love this palm print short set by the same brand...maybe you could have a Hawaiian Christmas theme? "Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say on a bright Hawaiian Christmas day..."

These don't scream Christmas, more woodland forest, but that means you can get even more mileage from them, right? Still a little pricey, but we're getting warmer and I also love these red tigers (again not totally Christmas, but red..hello!), and this "bearry holiday" set that I actually could probably convince Bryce to wear in the men's version. On the family note, there's not much cuter than a smooshy baby in Roberta Roller Rabbit!

Woohoo! We've finally gotten to a price point under $100! I own a pair of P.J. Salvage flannel pajamas and they are oh so cozy, and come in so many fun prints! Also love this flannel pair that come in 3 Christmas patterns under $50!

Woohoo! We have a winner...and for under $40 with free holiday shipping if you add a little more to your cart to push the total up to $50 (I recommend adding this)!!! I actually ordered them in the "NYC Cityscape" print and am surprising my mother-in-law with a matching pair to wear on Christmas and  reminisce to our New York City Christmas trip last year! I also couldn't resist ordering a pair in the pink stripe for post-Christmas wear. Prior to ordering, I had actually tried these on in store, and they are so incredibly soft and run true to size. I can't wait for their arrival!

And last, but certainly not least, you definitely need a comfy pair of slippers to accompany your jammies...and these all are on sale!

Are you a fan of Christmas pajamas?

What's left on your to do list over the next 11 days?

Have a great weekend!