it's the holiday season

Christmas has come and gone! Every year, it seems to pass by so quickly. We prepared for the holiday by blasting Christmas tunes and decorating the house, sipping every variety of egg nog and faux nog you can think of. I do love fully embracing different seasons. If it's Christmastime, then there shall be Christmas music and eggnog. On a hot summer day, you need pitchers of iced tea and mojitos. Birthdays and anniversaries must be celebrated. Distinguish the days and months and seasons through celebration. Build up traditions to look forward to. Seize the moment!

Ok, the month has gotten away from me and my planned exploration of all things house and neighborhood related. But here we go: I'll be back later this week with some thoughts for the new year and then we'll get back on track. One goal for 2015? Write at least a post a week here, and some longer form musings once a month.

Good luck to everyone this winter, it's a tough season
An old Christmas card of ours

christmas wreaths

Our new house is the coziest. I'm sure I will love it once summer comes around, but if I had to move into a house right before the darkest, coldest season... I would pick this one over and over. We build fires in our fireplace, light balsam fir incense and snuggle up on the couch. It's just too much coziness for me to comprehend sometimes, but I try. In an effort to get our home ready for the holidays, I've done two things.

The first thing was to make this wreath. I made this wreath! My co-worker and I took a class at a local florist shop last week during a nice snowstorm. I have no idea how this turned out so nicely, but I can only guess that having a bright red door as inspiration and a tiny bit of experience with making floral crowns helped.

The second thing I did to deck the halls was complete an obsessive, worldwide hunt for the perfect Christmas window candles. As soon as we moved in, I thought, "This home would look lovely with Christmas window candles." You know the type, right? Well, the perfect ones aren't as easy to find as you might think. Retailers are sold out or only sellings one with a terrible haunted orange glow. I searched far and wide, increasingly worrying my loved ones with my singular focus. I'm happy to report that I found the perfect ones. Battery-operated, on a timer and with the perfect glow.

The bulk of our Christmas spirit came out on Friday, when we bought our tree and put up all the trimmings around our home, while sipping on faux eggnog (trying to save the real stuff for closer to Christmas) and blasting holiday tunes. What are your go-to decorations for Christmas? 

a birthday cake

Chris turned 30 earlier this week! He's just the coolest guy and he makes 30 look

really good

. The day before his birthday, he snagged one last 20-29 age group award at a local Halloween-ish trail race. Really snuck that one in there, right? He won me a cookie, which is not the first running award cookie he's won. What can I say? We run and drink and eat.

We celebrated the milestone with a birthday hike, the rainy and muddy six-mile trail race, fancy dinners and a pub drink. And my mother-in-law made the most stunning birthday cake! Even the restaurant staff where we were eating came over to comment on it. It's a German pound cake recipe topped with a sprinkling of confectioner's sugar and homemade maple leaf roses! So Pinterest! So beautiful!

Wouldn't this make a lovely fall wedding cake, too? Don't you love birthday cake? I never will understand people who don't like desserts. Me? I always have room for dessert. Always.

a baby shower for sister

Screen Shot 2013-11-25 at 6.44.37 PM.png A few weeks ago we gathered up a group of fantastic women to celebrate my sister's baby! Little Baby Girl M is scheduled to arrive in early January and we are all so over the moon. My mom and I wanted to throw a cozy little gathering for Kate and her ladies, so we decide to host a lunch at a local coffee shop. They were easy to work with and affordable, so it suited us perfectly.

The overwhelming theme of the day was, of course, sending so much good cheer and love into the universe for Kate and her husband and their yet-to-be-born wee one, but there were some cute details thrown in too. Here are the little bags of organic strawberry jelly beans and m&ms.

My mom made an incredible banner with hand cut letters and polka dot background paper. We also handed out cards for everyone to share their well-wishes and advice for the new mama. On the back, guests could fill in their wishes for Baby M. My cousin had a similar card at her shower and so I searched Pinterest to find inspiration for the wording.

Though we skipped the games, we did have one other optional activity at the shower. To be honest, I wasn't sure if I was the only person who would like it, but my mom assured me no one would roll their eyes at it. We had pages, each with a letter written on it, and then supplied markers and crayons for everyone to make their own page of an alphabet book for my future niece! The drawings turn out pretty hysterical and odd, which is just what we were looking for. At least Baby Girl M will know one thing... what her mama's friends may lack in drawing skills, they make up for with creativity and enthusiasm.

Love you, Sister, and can't wait to meet that little puddin' soon. I am going to dress her in baby jeggings and teach her how to terrorize you :)

Also, here's a beautiful post my mom wrote about becoming a grandmother.