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.


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