The Upstairs Christmas Decor




I've been itching to share the rest of our Christmas decorations for the year 2016, mainly because this was an overhaul year!

I've had the same Christmas decorations since the first year we got married (back in the good ole blogging days, I'd do a post every year showing you the same decorations), but this year I decided to get some new festive decor.  I got a lot of new furniture and decorations this year to go with our house renovation, wanting to finally get this place fully decorated and settle in - and some of those decorations would just clash with my old Christmas stuff.

You might have seen our new kitchen table on Instagram (follow my account for family stuff here), and if you did you might remember that the chairs are aqua.  And I love them, so much.  And our kitchen curtains are yellow stripes.  I wasn't sure how I'd like red sparkles with aqua and yellow, and I didn't want to hide my kitchen chairs and curtains every year in order to decorate for Christmas.  So we got some new stuff and put the red decorations downstairs.

For upstairs I was going for a colorful feel, minus the red...so we have various shades of blue, green, white, brown, and gold!  I like how it turned out - it feel Christmasy but our touches of Christmas still kind of go with our regular color scheme.










I have the lights on white for these pictures, but we splurged and got new LED lights for the trees this year - and they can change to any color we want!  I'm surprised to find my favorite is actually the multi-color.  I thought I was a white-light person, but the colors on this string are really nice and the kids like them best too.

This year when we dug our decorations out of the shed, we also found that a mouse had nested in our tree!  Gross!  So we had to purchase a new tree.  It was an expensive Christmas decoration year.




You might also remember our Advent calendar, personally crafted by Derek's brother and his wife!  I love it so much.  It used to be wood, but this year I decided to paint it white because I had this vision of how white would go with our other decorations and set off the jars.  I love the way it turned out.  I'm going to share more about our Advent next week.








This year I kept seeing these adorable garlands - they are twine, with little furry white snowballs spaced along them.  I love the way they look, but we already way overshot our Christmas budget this year with the tree problems, so I just made my own version.  All it cost me was $3 for the yarn!  I made big white pom-poms and tied them along some twine I already had.  This yarn pom pom tutorial shows you the basic method, but I used my whole hand instead of a fork.  Maybe someday I'll get the furry garland, but this one has the same feel and was way less expensive!








The dining room is my winter wonderland themed area.  When I uttered the words "winter wonderland", Derek nixed it and wouldn't let me do it all over the house, but this is my little wonderland corner.  I got the trees and deer from Hobby Lobby, the marquee star from Target last year, and the crochet centerpiece was a wedding present from a sweet lady at the church where I grew up.





My favorite part is that I finally got a manger scene!  We never had one before this year, and when I saw one I liked at Hobby Lobby I had to snag it.  There is something about this one that I really like, and I'm glad to have the true reason we celebrate front and center this year.

Have you done a Christmas decor post this year?  Comment below because I want to check it out!

P.S. THANK YOU to all who commented on my old-fashioned blogging post!  I am so excited to know there are so many of you still out there who like that kind of blogging, and I have to tell you, I'm already excited about pounding out something random this next Tuesday.  It's been a while since I looked forward to writing a post like that - it's freeing to plan something that is NOT pinnable!  So I hope you won't think I'm going back on what I said by including the pins below.  I'll still just include pins when something happens to be pinnable, but I'm going to not let my whole focus be Pinterest either, as it too often is for bloggers these days.  Because sheesh, social media seems to be a necessary tool that also has a way of sucking the fun out of blogging.  Do you know what I mean?






















Old-Fashioned Blogging



This past fall my eight year blogging anniversary quietly passed by.

I’ve been blogging for eight years.  Do you know how ancient that makes me in blog years?  

I didn't start at the very beginning of blogging (there are some out there who have been blogging five years longer than me), but I remember why I started at the time.  I had just gotten married, the first of my friends, and I wanted to connect with other young married women.  Since there were none in my immediate circle, I turned to the world wide web.

Back then, that’s why people blogged - just to connect.  And we wrote about silly things.  Much of it was neither profound nor pinnable.  It was glorious.

I remember, after a year of blogging, telling my mom how I had 20 followers now, and I hoped I wouldn’t get much more than that, because if my blog grew too big, how would I reciprocate by reading and commenting on more than 20 blogs every day?  Everything about that sentence tells you how blogging has changed.

I remember when it started to change - it was the year I had Gwen, and all of a sudden there was a crop of brand-new bloggers, and with them came change.  Their blogs grew rapidly, companies started sponsoring posts, and before we all knew it, blogging purely to share your life became no longer relevant.  It’s nice that your child started walking, but how many pageviews did you get last week?  It’s nice that you went on vacation, but when was the last time you got a sponsored post?  It’s nice that you want to share what you’ve learned while mothering, but why don’t you turn it into a link-up?

(Do you see the time that I am publishing this?  That’s because I wrote it in the parking lot while waiting for a doctor’s appointment, and I published it as soon as I could connect to wi-fi after I finished writing it.  I didn’t schedule it for tomorrow morning.  I’m posting on Tuesday, the slowest day of the blogging week.  I didn’t even take time to create a highly clickable post title, or create a pinnable image!  Do you know how many modern blogging rules I am breaking with this post?)

Adapt or die, that’s the survival of the fittest rule, and it seemed to apply to blogging.  Those who had no desire to adapt to this new blogging scheme slowly petered out.  And those who did adapt lost something.

I want to bring it back.  Just a little.

I want to tell you I bought a Christmas graphic tee.  I’m tempted to turn it into a mini series about how to style a Christmas graphic tee, and I might.  But why can’t I first just tell you I bought a fun t-shirt that I like?

I want to tell you that this fall I helped to host a women’s Bible study at church.  Four months have gone by and I’m just now telling you that.  I want to tell you how fun and encouraging it was, I want to tell you about the quirky ladies.  I want to tell you about how I had to quit, and how one of the ladies gave me a Starbucks gift card as a farewell present (bless her, just bless her, she knows I need my caffeine!). I want to tell you all this without having to turn it into a “Ten Reasons You Should Join A Bible Study”, or some such impersonal silliness.

I want to tell you about how I had the kids packed up, and I walked out the door this morning to a chorus of muffled howls coming from the car because I took too long to get the kids their Pop-tarts (our breakfast-on-the-go of choice).  How I felt slightly bad before I broke out laughing because it was so cute and ridiculous.  And there is really no way to turn that into a post either pinnable or clickable, but I want to share it, these little bits of life.

So let’s do this again, shall we?  Let’s take some time to share bits of life and a cup of tea on a Tuesday.  See you at the same time next week.  

(Or not, because I am going to be wild and crazy and not schedule a post ahead of time!  Just check back sometime on Tuesday and I’ll have something up.)

What I’m Drinking: Dirty Chai tea from Celestial Seasonings, mixed with a hot chocolate packet. It is delicious.

Also note: This spur-of-the-moment post prompted by Cassidy's post on blogging like the old days.  I'm not the only one who misses it.

Update: Please read this blog post on more about how we lost old-fashioned blogging, and how to get it back!

One Way To Spoil The Man In Your Life This Christmas


(Note: This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group®  & Armor All but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #ArmorAllGiftPack  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsst)


I've been realizing lately that I need to show my gratitude for my husband a little bit more.

There are so many things that Derek does for our family.  He works hard to provide for us, which allows me to stay home with our kids.  He gets up with the kids every Saturday morning and feeds them breakfast while I sleep in.  He spends time reading a book to the kids every night.  He is a good man, a man who is committed to his family, and a man who stays.

That's not something that should be taken for granted in a world like ours, where those last three things are not easy to find.

I've been trying to think of little things I can do for Derek to let him know that I've been thinking about him.  It doesn't have to be anything big, but just small things to show him that I see him, that I see what he does for our family every day, and that I know that he's a catch.  I want to spoil him a bit more with everyday luxuries.

I know many of you are married to good men too - and even if you aren't married I would hope for you that you have a dad, brother, or other man in your life who is there when you need them.  Can I encourage you to expend a little effort to let them know that you see what they do every day and are thankful for them?  It's an especially fun time of year to think of fun surprises with Christmas right around the corner!

And that leads my to a little suggestion, if you aren't sure where to start spoiling the man in your life...start with his car!


I happen to be married to someone who is really into cars in general, but even if your guy is not, I think everyone appreciates riding around in a sparkling, beautifully detailed car.  Derek has actually asked me in the past for car cleaning supplies because he like the process of detailing his car and showing it off afterward.  I was excited to find the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack to give to him - I was sure he would love it!

You can find the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack in the automotive center at Walmart (that's where I got mine - and I've even got a coupon for you! Take advantage of the $3 off digital coupon offer for the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack from Walmart, while supplies last!



The kit is a complete car-cleaning kit, at a really great value.  When I gave the Armor All Gift Pack to Derek, he opened it up and was so impressed with all the products that come with it!  We were excited to try them out on his car - and he gave me a little run down on how to properly detail a car using the products in this gift pack.



So now, I pass the knowledge on to you, in case you want to take it up a notch and also surprise your man by cleaning his car for him (I didn't go that far, because Derek actually enjoys cleaning the car himself, and he is better at it than me!).  What better way to spoil the men in your life with an everyday treat like a sparkling clean car?




Step One: Remove any clutter or trash from the car.

This probably goes without saying, but I'm trying to be thorough.


Step Two:  Wipe down the interior glass with Armor All Glass Wipes.

These glass wipes are a no-streak, no-residue formula, which is fantastic.



Step Three: Wipe down the dashboard, upholstery, steering wheel, etc, with the Armor All Cleaning Wipes.

Can I just say how convenient these are too?  I'm pretty sure Derek is going to keep these in the car for touch-ups as things get dirty on the go!




Step Four: Apply Armor All Original Protectant to dashboard, steering wheel, etc.

This keeps vinyl, rubber, and plastic surfaces shiny and clean and helps prevent cracking, discoloration, or premature aging!  It's the finishing touch.



Step Five: Vacuum the floor and seats.

Derek does this after cleaning the dash so he can vacuum up any dust or crumbs that might fall on the floor.


Step Six: Wash the exterior of the car with the Armor All Wash and Wax.

This stuff washes and waxes in one step, and the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack even includes a sponge and microfiber cloth that are easy on the surface of your car, so you don't even have to worry about buying those seperately!  This product helps protect the surface of your car and keeps it shiny. Derek tells me the waxing helps dirt and water not stick as much too, which is especially useful for keeping the car shinier in the winter, with all the snow and mud.




Step Seven: Focus on the tires.

This Gift Pack comes with two tire products - the Quicksilver Wheel And Tire Cleaner, and Extreme Tire Shine Spray (which keeps your tires that rich black).  I was very impressed with these products.  I watched Derek clean the wheel with it, and it made it look practically brand new!


(I just noticed that Derek didn't use the microfiber cloth for the tires - I think he didn't want to ruin his brand-new cloth yet!  Our tires were pretty filthy.)


Tip: The bucket included with the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack is perfect to fill with warm water for washing the exterior, especially in the winter when hoses aren't an option! Then you can store the products back in the bucket when you are done!




Derek has tried a few different car detailing products over the years, and he is really impressed with the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack and how well all the products worked!  It was almost a little mini-date for us to clean his car together, but if you are trying to surprise your guy and clean his car yourself, the Armor All Car Care Gift Pack has everything you need in one bucket!  If your guy is like mine and likes to do the cleaning himself, this pack would make an excellent gift too!  I'm keeping it in mind for my dad and brother, because this would make a great gift for them too.

The bottom line is that our guys deserve to know that they are loved and appreciated, at Christmas and all through the year.  The Armor All Car Care Gift Pack is just one idea for something we could use to surprise them and let them know that they are better-than-ordinary and irreplaceable to us.




Have you ever cleaned your man's car for him? Do do other little things to show your husband (or father, brother, significant other) that you appreciate them?  

I'm trying to get better at doing something special for Derek on a more regular basis, so share your ideas below!







Winter Fashion: Christmas Parade Outfit



Winter is officially here in the book of Callie (I know the calendar says winter starts on December 21st - such silliness).  I really actually love the winter and cold weather.  To me it means Holly Jolly coffee, sparkling lights, beautiful snow, and winter fashion!  

I like dressing in the winter more than in any other season, because there are so many more layering options than other times of year.  Layering adds opportunities to infuse those extra bits of style, and I still haven't figured out how to replicate it in the summer, when the warm weather means shedding layers.  I love all the sweaters, cardigans, jackets, vests, scarves, boots, booties, boot socks...I could really go on, but you get the idea.  I love looking through all my winter wardrobe options and seeing how I can combine my pieces in new ways!

I'm doing a little mini series for the rest of December (and maybe into January if I feel inspired) on Winter outfit ideas!  Here's my first installment.  A way to do Christmas-y colors without going over the top.  It's perfect for any event where you want to feel festive in a not-too-obvious way! I would wear this to something like a Christmas parade or other outdoor event, because the vest and sweater combo means extra warmth.










What is your favorite season for fashion?

Christmas Decor Tour (And A Free Gift For You!)




We have lived in this house for eight years, and I only just decorated the downstairs living room.

When we first moved here, the basement was unfinished.  We took on that project when I found out I was pregnant with Wyatt, and we ran around like crazy to finish it before he was born.  Still, the downstairs living room area sat unfinished for a long time because we didn't have the budget to buy a couch.  In 2015 I started trying to furnish it (and was a little delayed when I found out I was pregnant with Clarice).  

With our remodel this year I finally got it fully decorated (full house-reveal series is coming in January, so keep an eye out for that!), and this Christmas we bought a "downstairs tree", which makes it really feel like an official living space.  A house just isn't official until it has regular decorating AND Christmas decorating, right?  Anyway, it's official.  We really live here now.

I decided to do a little Christmas decor tour in two parts, and this week I give you - the downstairs!  I would have started with the upstairs, but I was too excited to give you all a little gift (see the end of this post!).  I'll share the upstairs next week, but consider this a little sneak peek before I share our whole house in detail in January (I haven't done a home tour on the blog since 2009 - a long time).
















And now for the fun part!  See that print on top of our piano?  A friend of mine, Jessica from Sweet Little Ones, has an Etsy shop by the same name that has all kinds of downloadable prints.  Jessica is really talented and I just love her designs!

The surprise is: I teamed up with Jessica to give this "O Come Let Us Adore Him" print as a gift to all my newsletter subscribers during the month of December!

Note: If you happen to come across this post after December 2016, you can also purchase the print for a very reasonable price here.

I so appreciate all of you who take the time to read my blog and newsletter, and I knew I wanted to send you something for a Christmas present.  Jessica was so sweet to allow me to give this print to all of you!  She has so many gorgeous prints, including this one, so check out Sweet Little Ones Printables


You can sign up for my newsletter here, and I'll be sending this printable as my gift to you in the next couple days!  
Merry Christmas Friends!


P.S. Swing back by the blog next week to see the rest of the Christmas tour.)







My Christmas Advent Playlist




Christmas time is HERE!  It's December.  No one can deny it anymore!

I am right on schedule with my Christmas preparation plan this year - which means I'm pretty much done!  I have a few presents left to wrap, but other than that December is looking free and clear.  I am looking forward to having a little free time to do some Christmas-y things with my kiddos and to work on my personal advent traditions, because all the Christmas "have-to's" are done!

One of my ideas for a personal advent tradition was to listen to a Christ-centered Christmas song each day in December.  So I went on a hunt to create a little playlist for myself, and I wanted to share it with you all!

Now, you may notice that my playlist does not include any Christmas classics, like "Silent Night" or "Away In A Manger".  And the reason for that is that I think we all have our own favorite versions of those classic songs.  We've probably also heard about every other version of them that there is and still we prefer our favorite versions.  So I'm not including any of those.  All of these songs are either original Christmas songs, or very old songs that you really don't hear that much anymore.

My Christmas music style...I like clear, meaningful lyrics; catchy melodies; and maybe a smidge of twang.  So this playlist includes songs from several genres, including country, pop, and indie sounds.  I even have a couple songs with a gospel flair to them (just give them a try, you might like it!).  In other words, don't expect a consistent musical style to this playlist.  

What you CAN expect from this playlist are lyrics that are either directly about Jesus and His birth, or take the Christmas fun we all love and artfully point you back to the true meaning of Christmas.  I've got fun songs and contemplative songs, and I don't guarantee that all of them are perfectly historically or theologically correct for you sticklers out there.  But I do think each song in it's own way will point your thoughts back to Christ - and that's the whole point of an advent playlist, right?  At least to me.

So turn on the Christmas lights, grab some hot chocolate, and enjoy these songs with whatever other advent tradition you may have!  I think I'm going to listen while I enjoy coloring this Christmas coloring book.  

Let the Christmas season begin!

What are some of your favorite Christ-centered Christmas songs?

(P.S. Also, don't forget to check out the photography course Black Friday deal I posted last week - it's good until tomorrow!)










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