in my {Christmas} heart.

My heart is so full + happy after the weekend full of Christmas happenings. After the stress of finals week and shopping/wrapping gifts three days before Christmas, it ended up being all worth it. Family just always seems to melt everything bad away, don't they? It's funny how three days can seem to be going by so quickly. On more than one occasion, I had to say to myself "Slow down, remember this. Remember this feeling..."

Highlights include (but are not limited to):
seeing Chad hold our cousin's baby for the first time. and be completely mesmerized how long his fingers are. debuting my new purpley skirt ("I like your dress, it's very purpley" -- Buddy the Elf). giving a Christmas goodie tray to a completely flabbergasted and grateful woman. getting an our 1st Christmas ornament from a friend's mama. seeing nephew UJ in his first vest, tie, and dress shirt combo--complete with pocket square. giving wedding pictures as gifts this year to very touched recipients. brother-in-law's reaction to a picture I took and gifted of him and his son during our Cali vacation. a sleepy husband greeting me with a kiss + hug on Christmas morning. a mid-afternoon siesta with every member of husband's family (nothing quite like their cozy blankets and fireplace to make me curl up and take a cat nap). my new hot pink pashmina. brother-in-law's family famous fish fry. reading article's of The Bro Code out loud. father-in-law making jokes every time one of us would open the traditional gift of new socks ("Sock it to me" was a crowd favorite). singing Joy to the World + Silent Night with all the church goers. listening to one 4-yr.-old boy sing/shout "God Loves Me Dearly" (and quietly laughing alongside my husband). watching Inception with some of the family members. one pie success (and one pie failure). the mini-concert featuring mom on the piano, the sisters on the vocals...and UJ as guest pianist. playing with the vintage Fisher Price farm and silo for UJ and comparing it to our old childhood one (our's didn't have the silo, but it did have the door that "mooed"). gingerbread latte creamer. listening to Chad read the Christmas Story / Luke 2 out of our Bible at the end of Christmas Day.

**First picture: credit goes to my sister Hannah.
**Second picture: credit goes to my MIL's Facebook profile. :)


post-christmas retreat.

I can't help but love etsy photographs, so here's another.

"It can't be over" I thought to myself last night as I was gazing at the Christmas tree still beaming in our darkened house. It has been the center of attention in our living room for the past twenty-one days and I couldn't bare the thought that we soon would have to take off the tinsel, garland, and ornaments and load its bare body in the back of our car to disposal.  It's too soon to end all the merriment and cheer...

So, I'm not taking it all down. Not yet anyway. I'm leaving the city, leaving up my ornament centerpieces and twinkly lights and retreating to my grandparent's house. We're going to listen to Christmas music in the car, eat the Christmas ham dinner (them, not me) leftovers, and share Christmas stories for a few more days. It's the perfect place for me to cure my post-Christmas blues...

I'll be back with Christmas weekend highlights and my hopes + prayers for the new year.


oh, come let us adore Him.

"Tonight, I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking. Once upon a midnight clear there was a child's cry. A blazing star hung over a stable, and Wise Men came with birthday gifts. We haven't forgotten that night down through the ages. We celebrate it with a star hung on a Christmas tree, and a cry of bells, and gifts; especially with gifts. We bind them and wrap them, and we put them under the tree. You give me a tie, I give you a book, Aunt Martha always wanted an orange squeezer, Uncle Harry could use a new pipe; oh, we haven't forgotten anyone, adult or child. All the stockings are filled, all that is, except one, and we have forgotten even to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in a manger. It's His birthday we are celebrating, you know. Don't let us ever forget that. Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most, and then let each of us put in his share - loving kindness, warm hearts, and an out-stretched hand - all the shining gifts that make peace on earth."
-- The Bishop's Wife (1947)

Join the triumph of the skies / With the angelic host proclaim: "Christ is born in Bethlehem" / Hark! The herald angels sing / "Glory to the newborn King!"

Merry Christmas from Chad & Amanda.


sending cheer.

I told you I would share our Christmas cards! I'm still waiting on stamps, but will hopefully have them all sent out by tomorrow. (Nothing like waiting until the last minute!) One of my favorite traditions is sending and receiving Christmas cards. I think it comes from my mother who sends Christmas cards every year with a picture + a little note. And, when the extended family gets together, I spend half an hour looking at my aunt's and grandma's cards. It's definitely a tradition and I will (hopefully) carry on every year.

We chose one of our wedding pictures (taken by the talented Jeff) and this Bible passage: For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11)

The back of the card was blank, so I just wrote a little phrase: 
May the joy and peace of Christ's birth be with you now and throughout the new year. Love from, Chad & Amanda

And if I could have, I would have sent each one of you a Christmas card ($0.44 x 170 isn't really in the budget, youknowwhatImean?) :)


3 more sleeps...

Our end of the semester celebration on Monday night: sangria, Scrabble, and waffles (not pictured) :)

I didn't think it could happen, but I managed to get through December without throwing my textbooks in the garbage (or at the wall in frustration). No more Scantron sheets, or calculators, or final analytical essays. For the next 2 weeks, I am free.

Free to: shop for gifts, do dishes, do laundry, get a haircut, watch Elf,  make two pies, wrap presents (with brown kraft paper, of course), make meals, have family over, and watch another holiday movie. And this is all from now until tomorrow evening.

Then, the real fun begins...

How are all of you preparing for 12.25?


Christmas Around the Home: On The Gifts

I'll be the first to admit it--I'm obsessed with brown kraft paper. I love the fact that you can put whatever you want on it, and the package will still look perfect. And the super cheap factor helps. I will be using only kraft paper this year--and jazzing it up with yarn, ribbon, and bows. And hopefully won't throw the scotch tape and scissors across the room...wish me luck! :)

1. 2. 3. 4.

How would you like some free downloads and gift wrapping tips?

How To Gift Wrap Like A Pro.
Downloadable Wrapping Paper and Gift Tags.
Wrap Gifts with Yarn.
Christmas Gift Wrapping Tips.
Bonanza of Free Printables.

latest + greatest.

white christmas. ornaments in vases. scrabble. waking up without an alarm clock. writing birthdays on a new calendar. sparkly jewelry. a cuddling kitten. kraft paper. volumizing shampoo. double knotting my winter scarf. being a shopper rushing home with my treasures. celebrating the end of the semester with waffles. pictures of my Christmas tree. red poinsettias. cracking peanuts. holding a 24-hour-old baby. the homemade tunnel in my backyard. getting Christmas cards. singing carols. hot cocoa and peppermint sticks. nativity scenes on the shelf. candles. hunting for goodies in my local thrift store. nat king cole. prayers right before bed. clementines. flannel pajama pants. houndstooth. will ferrell and john c. reilly singing little drummer boy/peace on earth. Christmas desktop wallpapers. bread rising. black peacoat. ree's cookbook. my tangerine mixer. hilarious outfits from the 80s. eclipse pictures. excitement over a baby girl in our family. sweet potato fries. muppet's christmas carol. bridesmaid dress collection by carol hannah. driving past houses at night and seeing their Christmas trees. reading Luke 2 with Chad.


What to Give: Volume V

The second-to-last gift guide is for my sister Laura.

The Deets on Older Sis: pregnant (as you already know). raising a one-and-a-half year old. blogging. cooking. running a house. tv fan (nbc Thursday line up is her weakness). movie fan. sports fan. husband fan. the best.

In Case You're Interested: 

01. Absolutely Fabulous Cookbook Stand$27.00 (currently sold out)
02. Organic Pregnancy to Birth Body Care$50.00
03. 12 Wishes for Baby Journal$28.00
04. Fish Tea Towel$19.00 (for her fish-loving husband)
05. Ceramic Eco-Friendly Travel Mug$45.00
06. At Home in Minnesota Poster$22.00 (I can see this in a frame right above her piano) :)


having a merry little christmas (mix).

There are 15 cheery mixes in the hands of 15 family members & friends of mine {soon! I sent them out on Tuesday, so they should be arriving pretty soon, all my far-away friends}.  I just thought it might be nice to share with all of you what I did: 

* Each person got a mix cd of 14-18 songs based on what I knew they liked. 
(For example: while I know Marci love listening to A Fine Frenzy, I know my mother doesn't. Therefore, mom got a cd full of songs of the 50s, 60s, Sufjan, and Mannheim Steamroller.) See?

* I made the cd jackets using Marta's easy tutorial. I also used my Japanese masking tape for the edges. 

*All the songs were ones I like listening to...after all, they were all bought by me + will be on my iTunes forever. Here is an (incomplete) sampling of the songs:

Happy Listening!


on my walls and shelves...

I know I've already said this, but I love the blogging world during Christmas. I love getting a tour of all your houses decked out for the holidays. So, in true blogger form, I thought I would show you some of my Christmas details.

First Two:

01. This is how I decided to display my Christmas cards. I got the idea when I saw this wreath from Martha, but put my own little spin on it. It is just ribbon, two embroidery hoops that I already had, and some Japanese masking tape that I bought this year. Super easy.

02. When getting out the decorations this year, I completely forgot about this cute little snowman + snowlady that my great-aunt made for me and Chad as a wedding gift. Normally, I tend to stray away from the cutesy snowmen, but how can you resist these? Especially since they were handmade?! I will display them proudly.

Next Two:

01. Ornament display #1. With all my ornaments being transferred from my parents tree to our tree, that left our $5 Menards purchase from last year up for grabs. So I got out all the clear vases and some jars I had left over from the wedding and whipped up this little display. Lest you think that it was done as a homage to the Green Bay Packers, green & gold was all that we had left :). I think Chad was tempted to put his Aaron Rodgers jersey beneath this...

02. And finally, ornament display #2. I stole some ornaments off the tree (the back is completely bare) and created this display on top of my microwave. I used my cake stand that I made at Jessica's house and underneath is a snowman tray from my MIL.

Sidenote: Thank you all for the kind thoughts you sent my way as I was finishing the mother of all papers earlier this week. Am happy to report, I finished it late last night and no longer have to stare at EBSCOhost or all my highlighted notes. Now it's time for finals week. Nothing like 5 finals in two days to stress a girl out :)


am grateful for.

01. A mother-in-law who buys us a big bucket of popcorn on Black Friday every year. (We don't need no stinkin' cardboard dividers...it's butter, salt, and caramel all in one bowl.)

02. A husband who understands that I need to write this paper. This analytical paper about WWII and children on the home front. A husband who brings me cookies from his parents house since I wasn't able to go, and remembers my favorite kind. 

03. A weekend where we couldn't get out of the house...even if we wanted to. Time with my Chad for two whole days. Just me + him. In our house--snowed in.

04. Things like Gossip Girl, Love Actually, and back issues of Oprah magazine that are a nice distraction from aforementioned paper.

05. A cheery phone call from my long distance best friend. Can't wait to be reunited.

06. 8 more days until Christmas Break. I know, I'm a fifth-grader...I'm just so pumped to be done with this month!


set your dvr...

If you ever need a Christmas movie to watch, this weekend especially is your chance (two classics!). Thanks to TV Guide, I have my DVR to record these four (since, you know, I'll be doing homework + studying, we're planning on saving them up and watching them when I need I break.) And since my little city is supposed to get 6-10" of snow on Saturday, I'll be snuggled on the couch with my love all weekend :)

Tune in:
12.11 It's a Wonderful Life / NBC / 7pm
12.11 White Christmas / AMC / 945pm
12.16 A Charlie Brown Christmas / ABC / 7pm
12.24 A Christmas Story / TBS/ 7pm (24-hour marathon)

Sidenote: For Christmas Eve, my sister-in-law makes sure the channel is set on TBS. A Christmas Story is her favorite movie, and our little tradition is to watch is all night long. We watch it once together, and then the kids stay up and watch it three or four more times. :)


if you really love Christmas, c'mon and let it snow.

Can I just tell you a couple things?

* I love the blogging world around the holidays. (To be honest, I love the blogging world every day.) These people just show their Christmas spirit in such a unique way. I'm so glad I get to be a guest in spaces that share their favorite holiday traditions, holiday DIYs (now that I'm such a crafter...), and why they love Christmas. I think it makes me appreciate the season that much more.

* I love the Target commercial below...don't you think the girl is simply adorable?

* I love that this semester is almost over. Let me tell you though, it's going to be a challenge to get everything done it time. Chad came to drop off supper at my work tonight and we tried to figure out when we could go Christmas shopping for his + my family. I don't have a free night until the week of Christmas (which, my school decided would be the perfect week to have finals). Oh well, someday I'll look back on this time in my life as wonderfully...full. Right? :)

* I love that it's the weekend tomorrow after work. I love that I'll be getting my holiday mixes done and out in the mail (will post that, don't worry). I love that I'll be watching It's a Wonderful Life on Saturday night (thanks for the tip, Summer). I love that I'll be waking up on Saturday morning with Chad--we'll finally get to have breakfast together!

* What are you loving, friends?
P.S. Does anyone else watch Love Actually around the holidays? I do (alone of course because Chad has put in his time and seen it with me about 5 times) and I cry every. single. time.


Christmas Around the Home: On the Tree

Tonight, Chad and I are going to do our traditional Christmas tree decorating (complete with Starbucks holiday drinks and a viewing of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer). Every year we decorate, we always seem to have to weed out the old broken ornaments and buy some new ones.

Here are some that I have my eye on:

In Case You're Interested:
01. Star of Wonder Star of Light. (Their whole holiday collection is quite charming.)
02. Cozy Home Ornament.
03. Personalized Handwriting Ornament. For the parents on your list.
04. Personalized Wood Star Ornament. Perfect for a stocking stuffer!

Want more creative ideas for decorating that tree?

* Here is garland made out of felt balls.
* Or some cookie cutter ornaments courtesy of Martha.
* Do you have paper, tape, and a needle + thread? Then you can make 3-D ornaments.
* Treat yourself to some eye candy via Sundance.
* I will be trying this hanging ornament mobile next year.

my new found love.

Those who know me in the real world know that I'm not much of a crafter. Sure I dabbled in scrap booking my sophomore year of high school (I mean, who didn't?), but other than that I just leave the DIY stuff to the other bloggers.The ones who know their way around a can of spray paint and who can operate a sewing machine without muttering a few curse words. I just didn't think I could be a crafter. 

Then ... I went to Jess's crafternoon. And among a handful of cheery bloggers + friendly faces, I realized that I could really get into the vast world of crafting. She (and Jeff / G) welcomed us into their home, and encouraged us that crafting is so simple. Anyone (me!) can do this. And do this well.

A little show + tell:

1) My wreath. All you do is twirl yarn around a wreath form. Why did no one tell me?! I now know every single Mother's Day, Baby Shower, Bridal Shower, and Christmas gift for all the females in my life. I also made some felt flowers...easy peasy (I don't know how many other ways I can say it--crafting is easy and fun) :).

2) My cake stand. (See the poinsettia in the background making its appearance?) If, at all possible, this is even easier. It's a pretty white plate super-glued to a candlestick holder. I can't wait to display sweet treats--especially Christmas cookies (courtesy of my grandma).
Sidenote: I went to the thrift store today and saw plates and candlestick holders in a whole new way. Oh the possibilities....

P.S. See more of our crafternoon here & here.


What to Give: Volume IV

Volume IV = gifts for my brother.

He is the:
  • movie, television, and trivia buff of the family. (I'm such a proud sister--He's going to start watching How I Met Your Mother soon. Yay!)
  • Eric Clapton guru. Want every single Clapton song? He's your guy.
  • guy's guy. Sports, beer, fishing, gym-rat are all right up his alley. Extra points if your gift-getter is a firefighter--like my bro!

In Case You're Interested:
01. iTouch Leather Case. $55.00
02. Home Plate Doormat. $19.00
03. Recycled Bike Chain Bottle Opener Keychain. $8.50
04. Anchorman Poster. $19.00
05. Vintage Shaving Mirror. $18.00
06. Vintage Fire Extinguisher Sign. $42.00
07. The Bro Code by Barney Stinson. $9.47
08. Guck-in-a-puck Hair Styling Gel. $14.00


hello, tangerine.

Say hello to our big Black Friday purchase. Our only Black Friday purchase (which we are quite proud of. We like shopping in our pajamas instead of standing in line at the checkout line for one hour, thank you very much...). Anyway, I have wanted a mixer since I started dreaming of my married life (like 5 years ago) and what I would put in my married kitchen.

This isn't just a brag-fest about our newest appliance. Chad and I have discussed for a long time about how making our own everyday staples would benefit our health and our wallet. With this new mixer, we can now make our own sandwich bread and our own pizza dough. (Side note: Have you ever tried to make dough using a hand mixer? It's no picnic... I tried once--flour everywhere.) We've also talked about getting the grinder attachment so that we can start making our own ground turkey, chicken, and beef. Oh the possibilities. It's our semi-food revolution, and we're excited to get started.

P.S. Any bread recipes that are a must try in your opinion? I just want to start using the dough hook...


our advent calendar.

Yay, you're here, December! I love you!

I've gotta tell you--December is my favorite time of the year. Although it's insanely busy, it's just so wonderful ("the most wonderful time of the year..."). Everyone's getting together and my heart is so full. You know what I mean?

I promised that I would show you our advent calendar and here it is! This tiny little advent calendar for Chad and I will be a fun thing for us to do until Christmas comes rolling around. It's filled with little notes and things that I wanted to make sure he remembered (you know, like how much I love him). I don't want to spoil the whole month for him by listing all the secrets, but some of them include: our annual Starbucks + decorating the tree night, a Home Alone viewing while in our pajamas, singing Christmas carols, and wrapping presents while watching Elf...

Check out my advent tree inspiration: here.


gift ideas and more.

Happy Monday!

Remember when I told you about Pinterest? I use it daily--I'm a little obsessed. It really is a blogger's dream and a great site to find and store all the goodies you find online...

Well, they are doing gift guides starting today and since I've been doing guides for the last month, I thought I would contribute. Some of the items I feature on my guide are:

This guide is centered around things that I would like (I mean, how adorable is that hat?!). If you're interested, check out my and so many others gift guides: here.

P.S. Looking for some new holiday music? Check out the free holiday album from Target available for download. I'm not sure when it expires, so if you'd like it, get it soon...


Christmas Around the Home: Advent Calendar

Did you have a nice Thanksgiving? I hope your bellies were full and you laughed a lot. (which was like my weekend.)

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I'm so ready for Christmas. I think I tell Chad that Christmas is my favorite time of the year at least 3 times a week. Yeah, like he doesn't already know that...  Speaking of Chad, I'm making his our advent calendar today (and, let's face it, tomorrow too)! If you would like yours to look like mine, here's the link I'm interpreting: mini advent tree. I thought I would show you a few advent calendars that might work in your house this December 1st-24th.

In Case You're Interested:

01. Farmhouse Garland Advent Calendar Kit.
02. Burlap Sack Advent Calendar.
03. Christmas Advent Calendar Garland.
04.Baby Sock Garland. via martha.
05.Envelope Advent Calendar.
06. Advent Calendar Pouches.

Stay tuned--later this week I will show you how our advent calendar turned out!  


our prayer.

photo credit: etsy (am unsure where, please leave comment if you know so that I may give proper credit). 
Today, along with so many others, Chad and I are celebrating Thanksgiving with a prayer.

Lord, you have blessed us this year with countless gifts that we can't even being to try and count them all up. You have blessed us with a spouse who cares about our needs and who makes an effort to help us remember how loved we are, a family who lives so close to us, two trusty cars that get us to work and school, a bank account that has not dwindled over our first seven months of marriage (we've never had to deal with the stress of debt and that is a huge blessing), and jobs that are secure in this insecure world, luxuries that we have in our house and in our free time, .

You have given us all that we need and more. When we are reflecting on our year of blessings, we see Your gracious hand in everything and Your timing in all our decisions.

Most of all Lord, thank You for forgiving us every day. For giving us Your Son and for giving us assurance that we will be joining You in Heaven, our true Creator. Help us to praise and to rely on Your Word in times of stress and in times of gratefulness.



Have you guys heard of pinterest? It's a "virtual pinboard where you can post collections of things you love, and 'follow' collections created by people with great taste".

I just started a couple weeks ago, and now it's one of my daily sites. I like that it's just one single place to save things that I find online, instead of having several different places all over my computer.

If you're interested, check it out! And you can add me here.

check out.

Hey friends!

If you haven't see this already, please check out this video of the Real Housewives of SNL (I watched it at work and had to muffle some of my laughter...)
P.S. I'm also watching Parks and Recreation for the first time via Netflix. Am wondering why it took me so long to watch this show!

Am off to start my Thanksgiving Break!


proclamations of Thanksgiving.

Today, I thought I would share something I found interesting...

A couple weeks ago, my church put in their latest newsletter several speeches on the topic of Thanksgiving. Below are some words that I found interesting and wanted to reflect on throughout the week:

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven
We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied
and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined
that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.

God should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged,
as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.
...Set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving
and praise to our beneficent Father
who dwelleth in the Heavens.

-- Abraham Lincoln
(March & October 1863)


What to Give: Volume III

For today's edition of What to Give, I focused on my younger sister Hannah.

Here are a few characteristics of Hannah:
  • While I will never understand it, she likes John Lennon the best. Even better than Paul McCartney...she claims to "hate" Paul. {Dear Paul, I love you and will never leave you.}
  • She is almost 16. She loves hanging out with her friends, experiementing with makeup, and spending time on the computer. {That sounds almost exactly what a 22-year-old does...hmmm.}
  • Books + her = love.
  • Music + her = love. Seriously. All she seems to want for Christmas and Birthdays are iTunes gift cards.
  • She'll be the last one to admit it {being so humble and all}, but she's the artist of the family. When she's drawing a picture, she doesn't just draw stick people. Like I do.
In Case You're Interested

01. 1950 Black Sunglasses. $34.00
02. 1940s Gooseneck Lamp in Red. $62.00
03. Twisted Pencil Case in Red and White. $29.00
04. Cup Cozy in Purple. $16.00
05. 2011 Bookmark Mini Calendar. $6.00
06. Tiny Hearts Sterling Silver Stacking Rings. $46.00
07. Felted Wool Mittens. $36.00
08. John Lennon Print. $15.00


am happy to see you.

Dear Friday: I love you. You being here today means that I can have a weekend filled with long-distant friends in town and my very special date with the hubsters. XO--A.

1. What Christmas song do you loathe?

Ah, Blasphemy! There's not one Christmas song out there that makes me cringe. I am Holly Christmas {not to be confused with my sister Holly Holiday from Glee}. I take my job of singing every Christmas carol and spreading Christmas cheer everywhere I go very seriously.
Okay, I lied. I just thought of one:
Vince Vance and the Valiants: All I Want for Christmas is You.

Watch the video here. Seriously, it's hysterical.

Whenever I hear it, I have to skip it. I just can't bring myself to sing along with this one.

2. Do you and your significant other cuddle at night or sleep on opposite sides of the bed?

I didn't know if Chad and I would be cuddlers or not when we got married (since we'd never shared a bed before), but we are. We kind of have to be since we sleep on a full-size bed. We like cuddling right after falling asleep and then right when we wake up.

Oh, I forgot to mention my other awesome weekend plans: we're shopping for a queen size bed today! We can't wait for those extra inches so that all 3 of us can fit on the bed comfortably (no more feet dangling over the edge for me. yahoo.)

3. Have you ever had surgery?

No I have not. I think that once babies come, I wouldn't be able to say that anymore. I hope I still can, but we'll see.

4. When do you typically have your holiday shopping done?

The week of Christmas. Last year I did a lot of online shopping and this year I will probably do the same. Luckily, we have some presents already (hello, wedding pictures).

5. If money were not an issue (and you HAD to pick something), what would your ultimate luxury item be?

Can I get a few luxury items? I would get new camera equipment. I would also get my house. My dream house. The one that only I know every single detail about.


christmas greetings.

The year I'm so excited to do my own Christmas cards. I got a steal of a deal over at Minted and I love how they turned out. I have a lot of people on the list, so I've been spending some afternoons addressing them and writing some Christmas notes on the back.

I will show you the finished product once they are sent out, but since so many people on my list read this blog, I want them to be surprised when they open their mailboxes in a couple weeks. Stay tuned!


my heart is happy.

Seriously. And I don't know why...

It could be...

because two days ago marked 6 months of being a wife. I've gotta say, having Chad as a husband is better than I ever imagined. We've reached a new level in our relationship, and we're only going up. It's nice to grow in my marriage with him right beside me.

or because I am so giddy over Prince William and Kate's engagement. I think this must have been how my mom felt when Prince Charles and Diana got engaged. I remember when Laura and I had a book about Prince William when he was like 15 and we always looked at the 10 pages of pictures in the middle.  I'm already planning the tea + crumpet party in my head for when I watch the wedding. I was asking Chad what else I could serve British-style and he suggested New Castle. "A lot of New Castle" he said,  "if you want me to watch it with you."  I can't imagine how those two are feeling right now....I watched their televised wedding statement and the questioner had to ask the photographers to stop shooting so that the couple could see the press (even I was getting blinded).

or because Christmas music is going strong on the radio. Yes, it's only one radio station right now, but in my car it's all I listen to. and I love it. I'm one of those radicals who don't wait until after Thanksgiving to start the Ella, Bing, Sufjan, and Frank music fest. I even have a list of all the people who are going to get a Christmas playlist from me this year. (mom, don't fight it--you are getting one!) :)

or because next week is Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving break is much needed this year. All I want is to sleep in, watch a parade, surround myself with love, proclaim my thanks, do absolutely no homework, and eat. yeah, in no particular order.

or because it's Pie Week over at Pioneer Woman and I can't get her Pumpkin Cream Pie out of my head. Am hoping that my mom reads this recipe and asks me to make it. (I'm not going to say no...)

or because Chad and I have a date for Saturday. Which includes a viewing of Harry Potter 7 and dinner. Am so excited. Are you, my fellow geeks?? :)


Christmas Around the Home: In the Kitchen

I can't think of anything more traditional than treats at Christmas. Every year, I look forward to getting a plate of cookies (and the always-present Rice Krispies) from my grandma. Ever since I started going out with Chad, we've always gone over to his parent's house for the sugar cookie decorating extravaganza. And every Christmas Eve, we have our food spread of crackers, meats, mini cheesecakes, and apple cider when we open gifts.  I am eager to start my own food traditions with Chad (and my future babies).

Tradition and food go hand-in-hand wouldn't you agree?

Let me just tell you, it was hard to narrow the choices down to nine. I spent days looking in bloggers' archives, Martha's website, and Real Simple. There is just too much good out there. I am just giving you a little sample of what I like; look and see what you can find out there that will inspire you.

In Case You're Interested:
01. Handmade Organic Gingerbread "Gift Tags" {the cutest looking treat on earth}
02. Peanut Brittle {I try to like it, but it always gets stuck in my teeth!}
03. Handmade Edible Gingerbread Mansion {I vote that you make your own--this one is a pretty penny}
04. Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies
05. Holiday Tree Brownies {I want to give dozens of these away, don't you think they would make you so happy?!}
06. Death By Rum Ball
07. Christmas Hats and Stockings
08. Peppermint and Dark Chocolate Spoons
09. Peppermint Candy Picks

9 Treats deserve 9 Links:
* Don't put your cupcakes in regular liners--try these Christmas cupcake liners.
* I would put my Starbucks Gingerbread Latte on one of these letterpress coasters.
* Here's a sassy little Mrs. Claus apron.
* Now that you've liner your cupcakes, make sure to put on these Christmas cupcake pinwheels.
* Visit this site for some holiday cookie inspiration.
* You could put your homemade goodies in these holiday treat bags.
* Or, you could use these personalized holiday labels.
* I am so inspired to make that first Christmas cake.
* Now this is some pretty treat bag packaging.

Do tell: what are your Christmas food traditions? 


What to Give: Volume II

Hello readers!

Volume II of What to Give is for my dad.

You might appreciate this list if you have someone to shop for who:
  • is a grandpa. and Loves it.
  • is a science guy. 
  • is into coffee {decaf for him} and any sort of nut. {peanuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios...he likes them all}
  • is into gardening. and fishing. and golfing {anything to get his body outdoors}
  • is a sports fan. {Minnesota through and through.}
  • likes funny things. {One night, he looked through about 25 pages of people of walmart.}

In Case You're Interested:
01. The Complete Illustrated History of the Minnesota Twins. $19.80
02. Air Plant. $12.75
03. Teak Herb Planters. $19.95
04. Sammy Decaf Jr. (Fair Trade Organic) Coffee. $13.95
05. Grandpa Tee. $28.00
06. Geek Clock. $25.00
07. Herb Seed Bombs. $7.00
08. Sweet and Spicy Pecans. $8.00


this week...

As the holidays creep closer, my weeks fill up more and more. How fair is that? Oh, well.  :)

Here's what I'm looking forward to this week:
  • first off: Conan! I love this man. I already have my DVR set to record every hilarious episode. For more Conan, check out his article in Rolling Stone and Conan through the years. Also, you can check out his Team Coco website were you can see Conan wash his desk. :) 
  • starting the long process of addressing + writing out my Christmas cards. I am hoping to get these and my thank-you notes done before the new year. We'll see how close I get to that goal.
  • making + planning some winter meals for Chad and I. Rachael Ray's magazine is completely inspiring me today. When I was reading it, I would shout out at least 15 recipes I wanted to try before Chad had to kindly tell me to can it.
  • wearing my new coat. I have been shivering on my way to class, so it was time. It's on the unglamorous and  practical side of the coat world {reversible and two coats in one}, but I got it for an insane deal. 
  • watching the 25 Worst Infomercials of All Time with Chad. Chad is such an infomercial fan--we will most likely be watching these right before bed and giggling.
Enjoy your week in November, my friends!



"No one can do everything and I shouldn't feel like I have to. By delegating, I'm able to free up a little time and have learned that other people can do the job. It doesn't always have to be me doing everything. Chad helped me realize that I'm not a failure by asking for help--I am just human."

Find more of my words over at Johanna's blog today!

Christmas Around the Home: In The Living Room

Welcome to the first installment of Christmas Around the Home! I'm so pleased to do this, and I hope that these posts will give you some decoration ideas. Or if you're like me, you'll just appreciate some eye candy.

When I think of Christmas in the living room, I think of a cozy couch, twinkling Christmas lights, and a candle or two on the coffee table. Of course, the living room is the center of Christmas--it's where the tree is and where everyone gathers during celebrations. Hopefully someday I can find items like these which tie some of my favorite things: vintage + handmade.

In case you're interested:
01. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
02. Birch Candle Set
03. Joy Pillowcase
04. Rejoice Candle
05. Snowflake Tealight Holder
06. Silent Night Blocks
07. Winter Whispers Print
08. Tray of Candy Colored Christmas Lights

Bonus! Here are a couple links to help liven up your living room this season:

* I make paper snowflakes with kindergartners every year, but this year maybe I'll make a snowflake curtain. It looks so simple, and imagine how pretty in would look when your Christmas lights are shining through.

* If cutting out paper snowflakes isn't up your alley, this snowstorm tutorial is even easier! {if you can imagine} You only need two items: dental floss + round white adhesive labels!

* Danielle's Christmas decorations are always picture perfect. Luckily, she shared How to Make Felt Holiday Trees with us last year.

P.S. If you'd like to make shopping {especially for clothing} a little easier, download + print these Christmas Cheat Sheets.


What to Give: Volume I

Before we get started--do you guys feel like it's too early to start all the Christmas talk? I, for one, do not. I think Christmastime is going to sneak up on me {It's already 3 weeks until Thanksgiving!}.  Christmas is the best time of the year and I say, the earlier the better. {I'm tempted to start listening to Christmas music--but I'll refrain. For about a week.}

Volume I of What to Give is all about my mom. My mom is one of the best people I know. She has taught me so much from how to sew a button onto a pair of pants to what to do when you find out that your husband is a snorer (note: earplugs).

Volume I is for people in your life who:
  • don't like having stuff in their house. My mom is a clutter-free woman--she doesn't like to be surrounded by too many things.
  • a greenie. A person who uses reusable bags and detests plastic. If it doesn't recycle, she doesn't buy it.
  • fond of antiques. She cherishes classic pieces and things that have been loved for decades.
  • have grandchildren. My mom has one already and one on the way.  It's her favorite pastime right now.
In case you're interested:
02. Plain Reusable Organic Dinner Napkins. $10.00



Are you enjoying your Halloween weekend?

Here are some eye candy treats that I found which I think will help:
*I made this apple crisp on Wednesday. It's divine.
*Lauren Conrad has the best style.
*These are some gorgeous ballerinas. I wish I saw graceful people like this on my way to school.
*I wish I had Dumb and Dumber poster.
*Don't you want to dine on a table like this? Look at that view!
*Some people are so clever--look how they made Facebook and Twitter look vintage.
*Of course, Michael Jackson's Thriller is a must this weekend. Watch the video below {it's the long version, so snuggle up and watch it with friends}:

P.S. Happy Halloween! I hope my sons are this cute when they dress up someday. They will have an adorable mama, though.



1. If you could be a fly on any wall, which would you choose?

My first thought was the Oval Office, but honestly, I don't think I'd want to be there. Too much stress. Sheesh, who needs it? Hang in there, Barack--I definitely wouldn't want to be in your shoes.

Then I thought about the Oprah show I watched yesterday and they talked about The Sound of Music and Broadway, so I'll say a wall on Broadway. That way I can finally watch a Broadway show {definitely on the bucket list}. My must-see shows: Wicked. Mamma Mia. Chicago. Rain. The Phantom of the Opera.

2. Do you budget your Christmas shopping or just get it done without budgeting?

Since this is the first Christmas where the gift tag on our gifts will read From Amanda + Chad, I think we will budget. We've never really had to budget for Christmas gifts together before, so it'll be interesting.

One of my favorite places to shop for Christmas gifts is etsy of course! I bought a majority of my gifts last year online and I was a huge fan of giving people one-of-a-kind gifts.

P.S. Come check out my new Christmas blog series starting next week!

3. What is the craziest fad diet you have ever done?

Honestly, I've never done a fad diet. Chad and I cook healthy foods and try to go to the gym as often as possible. I have wanted to try Weight Watchers since I've seen how successful it was for my best friend and my sister {not to mention the gorgeous Jennifer Hudson}.

4. Is there a TV show that you have seen every episode/season of?

Yes. I am a Gilmore Girls Addict. {Admitting it is the first step}.

Just ask my family about it. They'll be able to tell you about my obsession. Once, when the show's opening scene came on {it was a rerun}, my sister Laura asked "So do you know what happens in this one?" I sheepishly replied that I could and that I knew what outfits Lorelai and Rory were going to be wearing that episode.
Those adorable Gilmore Girls

It's pretty bad. And until they take it off the air, I'll continue to watch it.
Oh, and I know all the episodes of Friends too. My brother and I have fun reciting some of the funny lines to each other.

5. What one song always pulls at your heart?

Not fair asking that question when I'm listening to Ella Fitzgerald. She puts me in a very relaxed state and makes me want to listen to R&B hits all night long. I love the song my dad and I danced to at my wedding. It's not like it's our song or anything, and I hadn't even heard it until I started looking for father-daughter dance songs online. It's called That's How Strong My Love Is by Otis Redding. Listen to it: here.

When we were dancing, I couldn't even look at him--so instead I cried on his shoulder {like I used to as a little girl} and cling to him like a little monkey:

I also love I Will by the Beatles because that was one of the songs Chad put on the mix cd he made me for our 6 month anniversary...over four and a half years ago {awww...}

Did you guys get mix cds when you first started dating? Sometimes I listen to our 2-month anniversary cd just for fun. It's funny how your taste of music changes over the years!

Play along with me: here.


how do you solve a problem like maria?

Yup, I'm talking about TV again. And yup, I'm talking about The Sound of Music again. I can't help it! I love this musical so much.

{Mom, guess what?}

Oprah is going to have all the Von Trapps on her show today for a reunion special.
Seriously, how awesome is that?! Only Oprah...   Go ahead and watch--think about your childhood and how you would sometimes try to sing the high notes like Maria {No? Only I did that?}

Here are some movie stills to remind you how wonderful this film is:


Are you a Project Runway fan? Tonight is the finale and we can finally see Mondo be crowned the winner! {Okay, I don't actually know if Mondo will win, but he's definitely the front runner in my opinion. It's kind of reminiscent of Christian's season with how much he's being favored--I just have a hunch Mondo will take it.}

Below is a funny little clip from kids reenact :

I unfortunately won't be watching it live--work and all. I'll be one of those lame people who DVR it and watch it the next day :)  I hope you tune in!

P.S. Speaking of Project Runway, these two are brilliant (and extremely witty!)



I don't know if I need a sanity check or if I just spend way too much time browsing etsy but I've decided to feature some new series posts this Christmas season. In between classes, work, cooking, cleaning, laundry, homework and living, I will be doing some special Christmas posts starting in one week from today: November 3rd! 

I will be featuring the second year of What to Give {formerly Christmas Finds}. I will also be doing a new Christmas feature called Christmas Around the Home. Here's what I'm planning--What to Give will be like last year: I will center each post around someone in my life and come up with gift ideas that are personal to them. What I'm hoping is that you also have a sister who likes art or a mother who is going green and can take my gift posts and use them when you are coming up with your own ideas.

Christmas Around the Home will be a series in which I will take a different part of the house {office, mantle, kitchen, living room, mailbox, etc} and give some ideas for how you can put a little Christmas spirit there.

I will hopefully be able to crank out one post from each series a week which will end in time for you to actually use them when you are holiday shopping. Of course, it goes without saying {but I'll say it anyway} the real center of Christmas is the birth of our Savior and I am in no way suggesting that gifts should be all we think about this time of year. I am merely giving people a little help when they go off and do their inevitable Christmas shopping and mall trips.

I really enjoyed creating the Christmas Finds posts last year and I'm excited to dedicate a little of this blog of mine to all things Christmas for the next month or so. Off I go!


let's go.

Time for another listography installment.

Travel: List some of the American cities you'd like to visit one day.

Before I start listing all the high points on my dream USA road trip, let me just give you a little background. Ever since I was in 8th grade, my family has gone on family road trips every August. We've gone to every corner of the country and I've seen landmarks and special sites that make me appreciate our country just a little more. So, this list might be a little short, but it's because I've been blessed with getting to travel. 

Oh, and I really like skylines. Especially skylines at night. I dream of having a whole wall in my house dedicated to pictures of city skylines at night. 

 New York City

 Portland, Oregon

 New Orleans, Louisiana

Las Vegas, Nevada

 Austin, Texas

Chad--pack your bags. We're going on road trips every year for the rest of our lives.

I like big cities, of course. But sometimes I like the little towns too.  Those are often the ones that have the best food, the nicest people, and you make the memories in.  

I just want to get out there and travel. I think this post's origin stems from the three study abroad presentations I had at school this week. I've been forced to fantasize about taking a month-long trip to Scotland and Ireland for student teaching. My funds are limited to go overseas, but some of these US cities are so affordable. They are just waiting for me to explore.

P.S. Where would you go?


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