The Christmas "wow" factor

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Have you seen Southern Living's "The South's Best Holiday Home Tour" yet? If not, take a look. These places are impressive! There is one in particular that caught my eye and, of course, it was the festive Seaside Cottage. It's unique, it's blue and green, decor is in every room and it's beautiful!

Perfection, right? I love the way they use everyday things like the buckets above, ribbon, wrapping paper and ornaments to give it a coastal holiday feel. Also, I truly love the stockings and the beautifully wrapped presents. I'm not sure I could ever be this put together, but I will definitely be looking at these pictures for inspiration if/when I own my own little seaside shack one day! This is the perfect mix of fun, classy....AND my favorite...coastal!

Hot Chocolate & Lights

Monday, December 12, 2011

Since we started dating, B and I have a wonderful tradition of getting hot chocolate and going on a Christmas light tour of Austin. I'm so excited because we are about to head on our 4th Christmas Light tour together! I always love the people that go all out (Griswold Family-style) for Christmas. I'm not sure I will ever be this person, but I'm so thankful for all of those people that do go all out. We truly appreciate the time you take to put up so many makes us smile during the holiday season!

I am hoping to see some of this tonight...
This...without the snow of course.
Oak Hill...near Austin
37th Street in Austin!
Cheers to hot chocolate & LOTS of Christmas lights!!

Christmas Decorating

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I absolutely love decorating for Christmas. When I get home in the evenings, I turn on each and every light at night and it makes me so happy! There is nothing better than sitting next to a lighted tree with presents underneath, sipping on a cup of wossil (thank you mom for sending me a pitcher of your delicious recipe) and watching a silly Christmas movie.
We started with our tree. Right now, we use a fake tree and add new lights every year. We will be getting a real tree next year. I can't wait...I miss that lovely smell. We had a little helper when we set up the tree. She loves lights...and not to mention wrapping paper, bows, ornaments, etc :). Gracie is a little camera shy, but she also likes to help.
I don't have a picture of our finished tree, but I'll get one soon. It's nothing fancy. We have lights and a bunch of random ornaments. Mostly ones from our childhoods and from trips we have taken. It is always a blast putting them on the tree together and reminiscing on all the fun memories. After the tree was up, I focused on our mantle. My sister was a big help with this (thanks Annie!). I love lights on the mantle, but I also like a classic look. I ended up going with garland, magnolias and lights. Oh, and we put some wood in our little boat next to the fire. Cozy, right?!
My sweet father-in-law has given me beautiful handmade Santa's the past 2 years. These Santa's are gorgeous! I now have a green and red one and they cheerfully greet you when you walk in the front door. I only have a picture of last year's, but I'll get a picture of my new one. He's a jazz player with a saxaphone and he's fabulous!

Our dining room stays very traditional at Christmas. Red and green plaid with gold touches. I love our tree centerpiece on our dining room table.

Then, it came time to decorate our new kitchen! It has so many blues and greens that I did not want to go the traditional route. I found these beautiful silver, blue and gold ornaments and put them in a vase and they work great with the space! This is where I dream of a coastal Christmas.
In the living room, we have bookshelves and they are perfect for my village. My mom and dad give us a new village piece each year and I love putting this up because I remember why I got each piece. My village is continuously growing, so it's a good thing we have more shelf space. It's the only place we get "snow" in December.
Finally, we needed some lights outside. We decided not to do the whole house this year, but did some garland and bows around the door. It turned out nicely and we don't look like the Mr. Scrooge:).
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!!

Orvis Expedition

Who is a better trip planner than Orvis? I have been eying the Belize fly-fishing seminar at El Pescador next spring for a while. Belize is definitely a place on my bucket list. The scenery looks amazing, the activities are endless and, according to B (and Orvis), it provides some of the best fishing in the world!
This fly fishing trip, presented by Orvis, offers a guided bonefishing trip and of course all the amazing-ness Belize has to offer. Each day of the trip you fish with a guide and find the best fishing holes. You don't even have to bring your own fly rod. The trip package includes a saltwater rod, reel, line, leaders and bonefish flies! The trip also includes lodging at El Pescador, which sits on the water. Meals are served family style and you can indulge in a made to order breakfast. There is a beautiful pool and beach to enjoy as well.
Amazing, right?! If you don't love to fish, go with someone that does and you can just take in the scenery and town! Orvis Travel makes it easy. They know the best places, they create an itinerary for you, help you with flights, you can read reviews and they don't increase prices. They charge the same rates as the lodge does.

I've always wanted to go to Belize and this is definitely a great way to do it! Happy Vacation Friday to all!

p.s. B, are you drooling yet? :)



Season of Giving

Monday, December 5, 2011

There is so much going on during this season. I feel like my to-do list gets longer and longer each day. I was running around with my mom this weekend, taking care of some holiday things and finding so many things that I "need." Today, I am fortunate that I work for a non-profit that brought me back to real life. I was reminded today of the many, many kids right here in my neighborhood that won't have a Christmas, that don't get to make a Christmas list, that don't live with a beautiful lighted tree in their home, that don't get to hug a parent or a sibling and wish them a Merry Christmas. I'm thankful my job helps keep me grounded and constantly reminds me the real meaning of this joyous season. It is so easy to forget about the many people in need when you are receiving emails every minute with new, grand Christmas gift ideas, when you are surrounded by beautiful stores with lights and fun red and green items calling your name in the windows. It's tough...I know. I know many of you already do so much for others, but today I challenge you to pick your favorite charity in your community and give back by offering your time and/or money during the Holiday Season. It's amazing how it makes you feel. It's the best high and best addiction anyone can get. 
There are MANY opportunities to give back. Last Friday, B and I ran Lights of Love. It's a festive, holiday 5K that benefits Ronald McDonald House Charities of Austin and Central Texas. It was so much fun! It was chilly, people were in great moods...running with their dogs and children, Santa was there, lights were everywhere and they even had Jingle Beer on the run! 
I work for an organization that helps kids in the system find permanent, loving homes. So many of these kids won't have Christmas this year. B and I bought presents for a 4 year old girl. She didn't ask for much and it was so much fun to shop for her. Many organizations have kids/families you can buy Christmas gifts for, so they can share in the joy of the season that we all know and love. 

I saw a fun way to give back today in my community. HAAM (Health Alliance for Austin Musicians) is a local organization, here in Austin, that provides access to affordable health care for Austin's low income, unisured musicians, focusing on prevention and wellness. Some Austin musicians got together and made a Holiday HAAM Jam CD. Fun, right?! You can buy the CD or download it for just $10 and have all the holiday tunes you need for the season!
Enjoy the holiday season and soak in all the joy the many twinkling lights bring us during this time of year. Just try to take time to remember the many people in need and the many ways to give back. Many giving opportunities cost nothing, but time:)! Spread your joy to those who might not have any this Christmas.

Christmas cheer to all during this lovely giving season!

Vacation Friday-Going Coastal for Christmas

Friday, December 2, 2011

I was browsing coastal and ran into the top 10 Holiday celebrations on the coast. A place that caught my eye was the Harbor in Punta Gorda, Florida. Punta Gorda is located in Southwest Florida, about 100 miles south of Tampa. It has over 70 miles of canals and occupies a point where Peace River meets Charlotte Harbor.
It appears to be a quaint coastal town, but one that knows how to celebrate the holidays well. In Punta Gorda, they celebrate with Holidays on the Harbor where you will see over one million lights and amazing Christmas decor in Fisherman's Village.
You can also indulge in the Holly Days Home Tour where you can tour four homes and a church that are decked out with sparkling lights and other holiday decor. Club members dress up these houses with natural materials, such as dried greens and flowers. Sounds fun, right? Well, it gets better. All proceeds of the event help fund scholarships and community projects. If this doesn't get you in the giving holiday spirit, I don't know what will! The fun doesn't stop here. You can also enjoy a Peace River Lighted Boat Parade! Take a cruise on the canals of Punta Gorda and view the spectacular lights of the annual Christmas Light Canal Tour.
How fun does this look?! A a perfect way to celebrate a coastal Christmas. Happy Friday!!