Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holiday Favorites for 2010

We finally got the tree totally up and decorated this weekend and tidied the house on Sunday, so it looks a little less like the evergreen explosion in our home, and more like Christmas. Since I've had a few snow days on my hands this week (it started snowing on Saturday and is still coming down in small flakes today), I've had some time to blog hop, along with the beginnings of some holiday baking and online window shopping. Here's a short list of favorites:

1. A good book and a cup of hot chocolate: Who doesn't love this on a snowy day? Or maybe you're more of a movie person... either way, here's my short list of holiday reading picks.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia (we love it so much we have the whole series on CD)
  • The Polar Express (it's our Christmas Eve tradition to snuggle under the covers and read this one together)
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (I loved it this summer and am going back to reread parts--I want to try my hand at making some homemade mozzarella on a snowy winter day)
  • Any good cookbook, especially those by Cook's Illustrated, since they're full of good factoids and how-to's.

2. Snuggly hats and scarves: I love to crochet, so I have a thing for scarves. I have them in all colors and styles. But this year, I'm noticing some super cute hats out, including this super cute one wool beret from Target, among others. There were also some fun felted wool ones in other styles in the store. Hats are a really fun way to express a sense of style without sinking a ton of cash into something that you might want to change out next year.

3. Gorgeous holiday decorations: I've been inspired this year to add to our Christmas decorations by decorating the mantle. Ours is interesting to decorate, since the TV sits in a nook above the mantle, making adding some height from candles, etc. a little interesting. But I've found this inspiring one and want to try to whip up something similar with some antique candle sticks and the PB inspired sheet music candles I'm seeing all over the blogosphere. And, I'm still working on getting that clothespin wreath just the way I want before I take a pic of it for the blog. (Right now, I'm having trouble finding all of my holiday decorating stash... does that happen to anyone else?)

4. Homebaked goodies: Inevitably, our holiday gift giving list grows each year, which means I try to find a new recipe or two to introduce into the mix. This year, it's jam thumbprint cookies and homemade peppermint hot chocolate mix. I have also been known to put a few of the slice and bake varieties on a cookie platter if I'm in a pinch for time (shh... it'll be our little secret). However, usually, we try to get most of our baking done ahead of time, and we include some chocolate dipped things (pretzels, coconut, chow mein noodles) that last for a while, so we can make them well in advance. Homemade jam is also a nice thing to add to a goodie basket, or as a small gift for a coworker or acquaintance.

5. Christmas cards in the mail: I love getting holiday cards in the mail... it's just so much more exciting than the junk we usually get, and it's fun to hear what friends and family have been up to throughout the year. We're generally slackers and don't get many cards sent out, but I think we might do an e-card this year, just to continue the sentiment. I also like to use the old Christmas cards as gift tags, so it's always fun to see what the pictures are on the front, so that I can match them up with the wrapping (is that just me being a nerd... or do other people think about that too?). Plus, it gives the card one more "life" and you know I'm all about reusing.

So, what are your holiday favorites? Do you have some new ones to add to your list this year? I'd love to hear from you! Check it out later this week and there will be a guest post on saving a bundle on a phone.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

This morning, we awoke to a dusting of snow and blustery weather... the perfect way to begin December. We've made it through the Thanksgiving food rush (and learned that baking soda, vinegar, and a little liquid soap make a great cleaning agent for the oven), and have had our fill of winter squash and pumpkin pies and cupcakes.

So, now we're in the throes of getting the house ready for Christmas and it looks like Santa's workshop has exploded all over the living room. The artificial tree is halfway up, with lights on part of it; the Christmas wreath will go on the front door this afternoon; and the Christmas goodie list is being made and we're stocking up on flour, sugar, and all the other baking necessities. The Christmas wrapping station has not been put up yet, but I'll showcase some of those packages for you to give you some creative ideas for wrapping your own gifts.

The holiday projects, outside of baking, include staining the handrail for the stairs (which we've put off for two years... it just hasn't been at the top of the priority list) before decorating it with garland, lights, and bows. I also started a wreath last year with antique clothes pins (hurray for reuse), but I have to figure out what kind of embelishments I want to add to that. I've already spray painted it silver, so I'm thinking I might go with a teal and green theme for that wreath, since those are the colors in our living room and kitchen. (These might come from the holiday wrapping stash.) I'm also wanting to put together our cork board to put by the back door, so that we can post a calendar and not forget all of our holiday parties or committments.

So, what about you? Have the elves already been at work at your house, or are you fitting it around the edges of a hectic schedule? What are the projects you want to get done before December 25? How about that holiday goodie list... are you trying something new this year? I'd love to hear from you!