Because I Don’t Want To Miss The Fun

Nester and Kelly are each hosting a Christmas Tour of Homes right now, and even though I wasn’t planning to participate because I didn’t think I’d have time to pull a post together, yesterday I thought, Hey! I like Christmas! I like decorations! – and even though my decorations are nothing spectacular, they feel like home to our little family. So I thought I’d share.


This is the tree in our little boy’s room. I can take absolutely no credit for it because my mama decorated it when I was in Ecuador last month. But the little man is crazy about it, and I love walking down the hall and getting a glimpse of those lights.


Our tree looks a lot like it always does. For the last couple of years we’ve had colored lights instead of white lights, and I am a fan. I think white lights are so elegant, but Mama used to put colored lights on our tree when I was a little girl, so I have continued that tradition. Of course, Mama uses white lights on her tree now, but I’m going to stick with the colored lights. It’s A MATTER OF CHRISTMASTIME PRINCIPLE, PEOPLE.

Also, I should probably point out that Mama also decorated our main tree while I was in Ecuador. It makes me feel just the tiniest bit like a slacker, but more than anything it makes me resolved to plan a mid-November trip EVERY SINGLE YEAR FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.

All I’m sayin’ is that it was delightful to walk in the house after a week away and find two beautifully decorated trees. THANKS, MAMA!

(Mama doesn’t actually read my blog.)

(She’s fond of saying that she certainly can’t get on the Internet considering that she’s not even sure how to “turn on the email.”)


I don’t know if this plant actually falls into the Christmas category or not, but I saw it at a local nursery a couple of weeks ago and decided that it needed to live with us. It was in the middle of all the poinsettias and miniature Christmas trees and rosemary shrubs and whathaveyou, so I told myself that it’s a Christmas plant and brought it home and the end.


We don’t have a mantel over our fireplace (note to self: after five years in this house, it might be time to remedy that situation), so I hang our stockings on the circa-1974 bar that sits in a corner of our living room. It’s one of those unique-to-this-house traditions that makes me smile, mainly because it’s not really the most typical place to put some stockings (“Their stockings were hung by the wet bar with care / In the hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there but resist the temptation to rifle through the cabinets and fix himself a hot toddy”).

We don’t actually have any alcohol in or around the wet bar, mind you, but still: I am tickled by the notion of stockings hanging on a bar. WACKY BAPTIST, I AM.


Last year Alex’s teacher asked us to send in 350 strips of fabric, and after I finished breathing into my favorite paper bag that I keep on hand specifically for craft-related meltdowns, I went to the fabric store and waved the instruction sheet in the general direction of a couple of sales clerks while I tried not to panic in the presence of all those notions and needles and specialty scissors. After I bought the fabric, my sister had mercy on me and cut every single one of those fabric strips in approximately seven minutes.

You may be picking up on the fact that my family members tend to stand in the gap for me where Things Crafty are concerned. They understand that, if I’m left to my own devices, any task requiring scissors and/or thread is going to turn real ugly real fast.

ANYWAY (WAS THERE EVEN A POINT TO THIS STORY?), I think the fabric wreath is as cute as it can be, and I hung it on our back door as a reminder that the Lord always sends people to walk with us through difficult craft-related times.

Hallelujah.


I hung some ornaments on the chandelier in our dining room, and this is a picture of that and also sort of a picture of one of my feather trees. And I don’t really know what else to say about that.

HI. WELCOME TO MY CHRISTMAS TOUR. I TOOK SOME PICTURES OF SOME STUFF AND SOME THINGS.


And listen. This is what you call DECORATIONS GONE AWRY. I found that orange bird at a flea market in my hometown, and I wanted to put it in the center of the main wreath in our dining room. But then I realized that attaching the bird to the wreath would require some sort of wire or fishing line or whatever, and I was all, NO THANK YOU, MA’AM, I BELIEVE THE BIRD WOULD JUST LIKE TO REST ON THE WINDOW SILL.

Really, I’m just here to inspire you to reach for the decorative stars. I feel that it’s my mission and purpose in life. Go big or, well, just give up and fix yourself a Diet Coke and watch that Selling Spelling Manor show on HGTV because she has ONE HUNDRED FIFTY NINE toy soldiers that she bought at Los Angeles-area Costcos.

FASCINATING.


This is one of our Nativity sets. Normally it’s spread out a little bit more, but Alex set it up and I just left it alone. I can’t decide if the cow and the donkey are feeling anti-social or if they’re standing guard over baby Jesus, but either way: DELIGHTFUL.


I have a child who enjoys a Christmas countdown, so we have several different countdown items in our breakfast room. One is the chalkboard – a gift from A.’s sweet kindergarten teacher.


I found this countdown placemat at Target right after Thanksgiving, and it’s been a huge hit what with the spinny wheel that you use to change the date and all.


This Advent wreath makes my heart melt a little every time I look at it. I ordered it from Ann’s son Caleb, and all the profits go to Compassion International. We’ve been using one candle throughout Advent, but on Christmas Eve, we’re going to light ‘er up with 24. For me this wreath has been a great visual reminder that with every day of Advent we inch a little bit closer to the birth of Jesus; with every day of Advent we move a little bit closer to the manger.

Somebody really needs to sing “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” right now.

Seriously. I’ll start. Y’all chime in with some harmony.


Finally (FINALLY!), this is our Christmas card tree. I started putting a Christmas card tree in our playroom about five years ago when we got a free tree from Home Depot (it was a Thanksgiving sale promotion). This year the Christmas card tree looks a little sad because we haven’t gotten a whole lot of cards yet, but I’m holding out hope that the tree will be filled to overflowing by the end of next week. Since most of our friends have kids who are 10 and up, the cards don’t roll in quite as fast as furious as they did when everybody had toddlers and couldn’t wait to share a picture of their young’uns wearing various and sundry smocked clothing items on the beach.

Those were good Christmas card times.

So. There you have it. My (endless) (non-crafty) Christmas tour. I hope I didn’t put you to sleep, but if I did, I certainly hope you enjoy your nap.

Be Merry, y’all.

A Special Christmas Giveaway from AKT Designs

Not too long after we moved to Birmingham – way back in ye olden days of 2000 – I met my friend Alison. It would take me thousands of words to explain what she and her sweet parents (her daddy used to be my boss; her mama is my Bible study leader) have meant to me over the last 11 1/2 years, so just suffice it to say that I can’t talk about their family for very long without fighting back tears. I will never, ever forget the countless ways Alison and her precious mama welcomed me to this city; their friendship is one reason why Birmingham immediately felt like home to me.

You may be picking up on the fact that I just love them to pieces.

A few years ago Alison started her own floral design business, and I am consistently blown away by her work. She’s so creative, so deliberate, so thoughtful in everything that she does, and she has such a gift for taking ordinary objects and using them in surprising, extraordinary ways. Lately she’s been doing lots of weddings in and around Birmingham, and during the holidays she branches out (is that a bad pun? I do apologize) and makes the prettiest arrangements for mailboxes (and front doors! and mantels! and dining room tables!) that you ever did see. As a matter of fact, last year I loved the arrangement on our mailbox so much that I left it up until ’bout near February.

TAKE THAT, HOMEOWNERS’ ASSOCIATION.

I’m only half-kidding.

Because just look at how pretty these are.


In the interest of spreading a little Christmas cheer, Alison has graciously agreed to give away one of her original designs for a lucky blog reader’s mailbox. Obviously she can’t travel to, you know, WISCONSIN, but she’s definitely willing to travel within a 60-mile radius of Birmingham in order to deliver the winner’s prize. So let’s say that our giveaway borders are Cullman to the north, Tuscaloosa to the west, Montgomery to the south, and Oxford to the east. If you live within that great big circle, you’re good to go giveaway-wise.

(By the way, I don’t have any idea how many Birmingham-area people read my blog, but in my head it’s somewhere around seven.)

(Given that, I think the odds for winning this particular giveaway are mighty strong indeed.)

(Also: if you don’t live in this area but would love to try to win the giveaway for a friend or relative who does live here, that is totally fine with me. Just please make sure that the person lives within a 60-mile radius of the ‘Ham.)

(And if your house doesn’t have a curbside mailbox, Alison will make an arrangement for your front door. Which is pretty sassy if you ask me.)

If you’d like to win one of Alison’s custom greenery designs for your (or a friend’s) Christmas mailbox, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post that answers the following question: what are your favorite colors to use when you decorate for the holidays? Are you a traditionalist who likes red and green? Do you throw a little turquoise or hot pink in the mix? Maybe a hint of lime green? Or are you more of a metallics girl?

I’ll leave the comments open until Monday, December 5 at noon central time, at which point I’ll draw for a winner using random.org. I’ll notify the winner via email, and if that person doesn’t respond within 72 hours, I’ll draw for another winner.

Merry Christmas, y’all!

Just so you know: this is not a sponsored post. Nobody gave me anything free in exchange for this post. Unless you count all those times that Alison and/or her mama hosted Bunco back in 2001 and we had some really good snacks. The end.

This giveaway is now closed.

An Oversized Tea Cozy Might Also Work

I’ve mentioned before that my mama is the queen of form over function. She likes for everything on display in her house to be aesthetically pleasing, which is precisely why she keeps all the bed pillows in a closet and not on the beds.

It’s also why she is constantly looking for new and inventive ways to hide Daddy’s computer. What with all those unseemly cords, you understand.

So when D and I bought the new-to-us elliptical motion machine last week, I have to confess that the part of me that shares my mama’s decorative gene pool desperately wanted to figure out a way to make everything pretty, to figure out how to cleverly disguise the six foot-long black steel contraption that is now taking up residence in our home. I even thought about putting the elliptical in another bedroom, but since we tend to have a good bit of company, it seemed silly to tear apart one of the extra bedrooms when there was plenty of room in ours.

After a couple of days of considering all of the possibilities, I made a final decision. The best place for the elliptical really is in a corner of the master bedroom. It would only require moving one little piece of furniture, so for the most part it would be a super-easy transition. It was the right thing to do.

However.

Once we got everything moved, I walked in our room and felt just the slightest sense of hesitation. Because, well, DADGUM. The elliptical is just so, you know, big. And imposing. And not made of wood. And not capable of displaying family photographs or stacks of favorite books.

(sidenote: That big thing on the wall to the right is the previous owners’ headboard for their bed frame. We’ve thought about removing it, but it’s so securely attached that the whole wall would come down with it. And that is why I try to pretend like it’s a decorative feature and not an annoyance, though sometimes it definitely feels more like that last thing.)

After we adjusted the angle of the elliptical a little bit and scooted it as far back into the corner as we could, I realized that I was just going to have to make my peace with it. It’s not the most attractive accent piece in our room, but it’s hopefully going to help me to feel better.

So as I stood there and stared at it and vowed that I wouldn’t let it rob me of my decorative mojo, D apparently picked up on the fact that I was hesistant. He knows how much I like for a room to have a good “flow,” and he knows this because he would’ve stationed some sort of recliner with a cooler as well as a massage feature in the dead-center of our living room a long time ago if he didn’t have to take my love for “flow” into account. And so, considering the fact that we’d just moved a 200-pound piece of machinery into the corner of our bedroom, he was able to recognize that I was feeling a little unsettled.

And that is when he grabbed a throw from a nearby chair, grinned, and said, “Here. I’ll fix it just like your mama would.”

God bless him. It made me so happy.

And just so you know: I didn’t leave it that way. I like to think that I’m growing as a person.

But you’d better believe that I reserve the right to construct some sort of elaborate six-sided decorative screen in order to conceal all those handlebars and and pedals and wheels.

I think I’ll call Mama and see if she wants to start drawing up the plans.

A Special Little Giveaway

One day last week I bought something on Etsy that I just adore.

I first saw it on Pinterest, I think – and it struck me as the perfect little poster for our kitchen/playroom area. It’s totally inspirational and only $15. So, you know, SOLD.

And then I saw this Family Rules poster on the same Etsy site.

YES.

The very kind owner of AlexanderCreative – the designer of these posters – has graciously offered to give away a Family Rules poster to one of you. The posters come in four colors: black, white, brown or red. I think they’re all fantastic.

Just FYI and in the interest of full disclosure: nobody is paying me or sending me free merchandise in exchange for this giveaway. This is just one of those things that I immediately loved – and I thought y’all would love it, too.

So check out the AlexanderCreative Etsy site – and leave a comment if you’d like to win!

This giveaway will close on Monday, August 8th.

This giveaway is now closed.

As An Added Bonus, Maude Would Be Totally At Home Here

So there’s this little room off of our kitchen/breakfast area, and we’ve used it several different ways in the almost five years that we’ve lived here. I’m a little fascinated/obsessed by what the room was used for originally, but we have no idea. I think maybe it was a small den with louvered doors (that have since been removed) so that MAMA COULD HAVE SOME PEACE, but it’s hard to tell. It might have been an office (did houses built in the early 70s have offices?), or maybe it was a morning room.

I have no idea what a morning room is, by the way. I’m just grabbing at straws here.

But as far as how we’ve used the room – well, first it was a playroom for the little man.

Then it was an office for me when my Hoopty Laptop died.

Then it was a slightly redecorated office.

This is riveting, isn’t it?

THE ROOM NEXT TO OUR KITCHEN: A PORTRAIT SERIES.

Anyway.

As I’ve mentioned before, a few months ago D and I decided that the room would be a great place for the eight year-old and his buddies to hang out and watch movies and play the Wii and whathaveyou. That’s why I bought a groovy sofa at an estate sale back in May.

You’ll be happy to know that we did in fact move it off of the driveway. Moved it all the way into our garage, in fact. Where it’s been for, you know, about the last six weeks. -Ish.

Yesterday, however, I finally got around to rearranging/repurposing the room ONCE AGAIN, and I have to say that I think this incarnation is my favorite yet.

But first, a disclaimer: if an, um, ecelectic home environment isn’t your thing, then you may find that these pictures make you long for a quiet corner and soft music and some matching chairs. It’s just that I like a mix of things, and I especially like color. I operate by the theory that if I’m drawn to something, then that something will work in my house. And if the something has a history, then all the better.

So.

This is from the hallway by the kitchen:

And this is from the breakfast room:

And we should probably talk about that gigantor painting above the sofa, shouldn’t we?

Oh, all right.

That painting is one of those things that I saw and immediately loved for no logical reason. I was in my hometown at a flea market where a family friend, Ben, sells some antiques and collectibles and whatnots. The painting was in his booth, so I said, “Ben? Is it wrong that I kind of love that painting? Because I really, really like it.”

And Ben said, “Oh, I totally get it. It’s so bad that it’s fabulous.”

So I bought it for very few American dollars. And when I hung it up yesterday, it made me smile.

And yes, I could have moved all the other stuff on the wall, but that would have been a lot of trouble. Plus, everything on that wall means something to me or to our family, so it’s not going anywhere.

I also thought about having some pillows made in the same fabric as that little window mistreatment, and I still may do that down the road. I’m still not settled on my throw pillow combination – I have some extras in the back of my car right now, just waiting to return to World Market and Target – but I’ll keep working on it. It’s already different than it was when I took pictures this afternoon, mainly BECAUSE I’M INSANE.

I had something bolder pictured in my head, but anything bolder will fight with the fabric on the windows. And I’m really sentimental about the fabric on the windows.

I know. I’m weird. But I totally welcome any pillow-related advice you have to offer.

The best part of the whole process, though, was that I had barely finished moving the furniture when A came inside with our neighbor, B. I put on a movie for them, and they settled in like they’d been hanging out in there forever.

B even moved the ottoman in front of the computer so that she could stretch out across it, and I thought that was perfect – I’d been thinking of moving the ottoman to that spot anyway and letting it work as a little coffee table.

So there you have it. I guess the room is officially a den now. A 1970s den.

And something about that just tickles me to pieces.

We’ve Hit An All-Time Klassy High

Over the weekend D went to Academy Sports to pick up a couple of things for a camping trip that he and the little man have coming up in a few weeks. Camping has turned out to be one of Alex’s ALL-TIME FAVORITE THINGS EVER, and it’s a fun little twist of family irony considering my love for air conditioning and cable television and doors that can be secured with LOCKS AND BOLTS.

As tickled to pieces as I am that my fellas enjoy going camping together, I’m firm in my conviction that it’s just not my thing. After all, I am a person who cannot bear to read historical fiction because I can’t stop thinking about how blazing hot everyone must have been in all those corsets and petticoats and bonnets. And then I get all co-dependent and worried because they must have been just miserable and THEY DIDN’T EVEN HAVE A WINDOW UNIT.

Besides, I really don’t see anything even remotely romantic or idyllic about a book where a bunch of Southern belles from the 1800s show up for a festive August picnic in their finest antebellum gowns. Because really, how useful are those pretty gowns going to be when all those girls are laid out with a heat stroke fifteen minutes after their arrival?

DEHYDRATION IS RARELY GLAMOROUS, MY FRIENDS.

Also: we can herald the pluck and the grit of the whole Ingalls family until the cows come home, but that does not change the fact that Laura Ingalls had to have been BURNING SLAP UP when she ran around those pastures or fields and helped Ma whip up a hearty summertime stew. Honestly, if I were Laura Ingalls I’d have befriended Nellie Olsen at every given opportunity. Because do you know what I bet Mr. Olsen had access to by virtue of the fact that he owned a store? AN ICE BLOCK.

Here’s a loaf of homemade bread, Nellie! And your bangs look FANTASTIC this morning! Why don’t we talk about how you keep your dresses so crisp and white WHILE WE SIT ON THE ICE BLOCK?

I now have no idea what I was originally talking about.

Oh, yes. Camping. Sort of.

So D came home with his Academy purchases, and he said, “I bought a chair for Alex” as he pulled a small box from the shopping bag. I never know what to expect when my husband buys something for our house, mainly because when we first got married his favorite furniture items always required assembly and typically employed a design motif of black laminate and smoky glass panels.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.

Anyway, D went on to explain that the chair he’d picked up for Alex was inflatable. He’d noticed that when the little guy has friends over and they’re watching a movie or playing the Wii, one person usually claims the bean bag and then the others sort of sprawl out on the floor. D thought it might be nice if there was one more kid-friendly seat, and I thought that sounded like a fine idea, especially since it wouldn’t be something that we’d necessarily need to keep out all the time. I pictured something about the size of those convertible chairs you find in toy departments, and I was totally on board.

Well.

Tonight before the little guy’s bedtime, D mentioned to Alex that they needed to blow up the new chair (those words do have a certain air of sophistication about them, don’t they?). I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the process because all the air pump action was going on behind me. After about five minutes, though, D said, “I think this chair might be a little bit bigger than I originally thought,” and y’all, when I turned around, OH HAVE MERCY I AM CERTAIN THAT I GASPED AUDIBLY.

You see, it’s really not so much a chair as it is a chair and a half. Or a loveseat. It’s HUGE. And it would be fine to set up for Alex and his buddies when they need it, but I’m afeared that we would RIP IT TO SMITHEREENS if we tried to move the inflated version down the hall. It’s really best-suited for ON-SITE inflation, come to think of it.

We took a break from our chair issues for a few minutes so that we could tuck in the little guy and say prayers, and afterwards I finished cleaning up the kitchen. When I walked back in the den about twenty minutes later, I saw that my husband had found a way to incorporate the new (INFLATABLE) chair into our decor. Approximately twelve inches away from the television.

SWEET FANCY MOSES.

My eyes must have been as wide as saucers because D immediately said, “It won’t stay there forever. REALLY. Because when you need for the room to look pretty, WE CAN JUST DEFLATE IT.” And then he sat down on his inflatable throne and blew up some things on the Xbox. I had to laugh, mainly because he was so delighted by his new set-up. Plus, it’s apparent that the chair meets several of my husband’s furniture requirements. It’s portable, it has a cup holder – all that’s missing, really, is the ability to recline.

Since D was playing video games, I grabbed my laptop so that I could chronicle our recent decorative developments while I watched some HGTV in the guest room. An hour or so later I decided that I needed a little orange juice, and when I walked past the den, I immediately noticed that D didn’t leave the chair raft in front of the TV when he finished playing Xbox. I guess that’s the good news.

Here’s the bad news.

Apparently this is where we’re storing it. Or stacking it, as it were.

Clearly we’re going to have to come up with, oh, I don’t know, A DIFFERENT PLAN.

And do you know what? Despite my admitted aversion to Things Historical, I’m convinced that I know exactly how Laura Ingalls would handle this situation.

She’d pop that sucker with one of Nellie Olsen’s hair pins.

Maybe there’s something to be said for ye olden days after all.