Christmas decor 2012

Popping in to say hello and share some pics of our Christmas decor this year.  I starting working on this post on Christmas Eve while Kenny, Kole and my dad were all taking Christmas Eve naps.  :)  But then the girls and I turned on It’s a Wonderful Life and the house smelled so good (combination of my candle and my mom’s cooking) that I was forced to close my computer and savor the day.  And now I’m posting Christmas decor pics after Christmas.  But I can live with that.  Hope you can too.  :)
I didn’t have a lot of time to be creative this month so my Christmas decor is very similar to last years.   
Stockings were hung on my hutch again.  Safely out of my little buddy’s reach.  :)

  I just tossed up white pitchers and some greenery – things I had on hand.  
I also added some of my glass bottles and jugs.   

The only new purchase was this fun little reindeer I found for a steal at Home Goods.  
I think he is simply charming and the two of us have become fast friends.  

Love seeing my kiddos’ stockings all lined up.  
The girls left the sweetest little notes in each of them for Santa and Mrs. Claus.  :)
Last year I decided to try out a more winter-y look with my mantel and stuck with a silver and aqua theme.  But I didn’t love the greenery with the blue and I felt like it was missing something.  RED.  
So this year I switched things around a bit and added a red wreath.  I found this wreath at Michaels for 4 bucks!  It adds the perfect pop of red I was looking for.  I love inexpensive wreaths like this because then I don’t feel guilty buying a new one each year.  It’s so fun to mix things up!  

After I hung my wreath I asked Kenny if it would look better with a red ribbon holding it up instead of a silver ribbon and without even looking up from his laptop he answered “that’s out of my skill set.”  
My babe.  What would I do without him.  

I tossed a few red, aqua and silver ornaments in my apothecary jars.

And added a little bling to reindeer #2 I picked up at Home Goods.  Because I was having too much fun with the reindeer on my hutch to stop there.

I think he looks regal.
He is so happy in his new home.

I had a few leftover ornaments so I tossed them in mason jars and added them to a few random spots around the house.  
Same winter-y frames from last year.  (Scrapbook paper project here.)
And I hung the same silver/aqua ornaments from our dining room light fixture.  

 (decor from 2010)
You’ll notice I had things on the floor and on low counters and tables.  
A sure sign of the “pre-Kole era” as we like to call it.  :)
This year tables stayed wiped clean.  I also swapped out my Merry Christmas quote for my red bird.  
Because change is a good thing.  
And then I called it a day and my 2012 Christmas decor was complete!  
Oh!  Except for my pantry door holding all of our past pics on Santa’s lap.  So fun to see how much my babies have grown each year.  This year there was hardly room on Santa’s lap!  
But I will keep taking them to sit on Santa’s lap.  
As long as I possibly can.  

Merry Christmas!

Santa came!  :)
So much love and excitement. 
We had a wonderful Christmas.  
Wishing the same to you and yours!

Time Management Notepad

Wow.  Christmas is in less than a week!  Are you ready?  I’m not.  No matter how hard I try to avoid scrambling during the last week of December, I’m always scrambling during the last week of December.  Oh well.  I guess it wouldn’t be Christmas without a bit of that “harried/stressed gotta find a way to fit everything in” feeling.  :)  Because this has been an especially busy December for us with added new house meetings I have had to work really hard to stay organized and on top of things.  Usually I use my time management binder each day to help me organize my life.  (Time management binder post here.)  
I still love my binder.  It is where I completely DUMP my brain each day.  But once the month of December hit I could tell I needed to simplify things.  So I made a drastic change.  My Time Management Binder became My Time Management Notepad.  Ok.  Maybe not so drastic after all.  :)  But I’ve been surprised at how much better this notepad has served my needs this month.  

I don’t have time for any of the “extra” stuff right now (home projects, scrapbooking, etc.) so I kept things simple by buying a 5 subject notepad and dividing it into the four main areas I need to focus on each day.

I placed my favorite Martha Stewart home office dividers on each of the notepad folders…

and labeled them TO-DO’s, NEW HOUSE, BLOG, CHRISTMAS.  Obviously these tabs would be different for everyone, but the idea is to break your to-do’s down into 3 or 4 basic categories.  What I like about the notepad vs. the binder is that #1 – there aren’t as many categories (like I said, I needed to simplify)  #2 – there is more paper and with the spiral binding it’s easier to use to take notes.  I am taking a lot of notes these days.  Like the binder, there is a pocket folder for each section to hold loose papers.  
Here is how I’ve organized the Christmas section of my notepad this year.  And yes, I realize that while my notepad has helped me organize for Christmas, I wasn’t organized enough to get this post done at the beginning of the month to help you!  (SO SORRY!)  I’m hoping this gives you some ideas for next December.  Never to early to start planning ahead.  :)

I used the pocket to hold random magazine clippings of toy ideas for the kids.  I’ve also used it to hold receipts.  I hang on to all of my Christmas shopping receipts so that if we need to do an exchange/return after the holiday we have the receipt ready to go.  It’s nice to have them all in one place.

On the paper inside the Christmas section I’ve written LOTS of things:

– Friends to add to our Christmas card list this year and addresses that have changed.
– What I’ve bought for each of the kids and where I have it stashed.  Without this I would totally forget where I have things hidden.  I’ve had to get so creative because we are tight on space and my girls are SNEAKY.
– A list of extended family.  Gift ideas and what I’ve already bought each of them.  **You can see why I couldn’t share these pages on my blog.  :)
– A list of friends/neighbors I am giving gifts to and what I’m giving each of them.  I check each person off after their gift has been delivered.
– Grocery list for Christmas Eve/Day dinner.  My mom is coming to our house this year for Christmas so we will have real meals!  YEA!
– Random Christmas to-do’s including traditions/activities I want to for sure remember to do with my kids (make our Pretzel Hugs, visit Christmas Card Lane, etc.)

The Christmas section of this binder has been so helpful for me this month.  Each year after December I write down a list of things I want to do better/change for next year and I’ll include that in this section too.  That way next year I can glance through my notes (hopefully early Fall) and get a jump start on a few things.  So that next year will be the year I don’t have that “harried/stressed gotta find a way to fit everything in” feeling.  :)

The New House section has also been a huge help for me this month.  I keep random magazine clippings and notes that I need in the folder.  Plus I love having the notebook to take with me to the house.  It’s so easy to use for jotting down notes.

These are a few things I’ve been working on this week.  See why my blog posting has slowed down a bit?  :)  Every day there are decisions that need to be made which always involve research and a lot of phone calls and e-mails.  Having it all in front of me in my notepad has really helped me stay on top of things.  Nothing makes me happier than pulling out a page of house notes and tossing it knowing those decisions are behind me!  I think this system would work great if you are doing any re-modeling or re-decorating too.

The BLOG section of my notebook is where I jot down ideas for blog posts and a sad attempt of a posting schedule that I never really follow.  :)  

The TO-DO section in the front of my notebook is for all of those random day to day things that come up.  It’s my go to list each day to keep my schedule straight.  I try to only write down things I HAVE to get done that day.  There are so many things I’d love to do, but writing too many things down always overwhelms me and then I never get that satisfying feeling of checking everything off of my list.  One of my best time management tips if you are struggling to stay on top of your life is to determine what your priorities are and be ruthless about trimming unnecessary stuff.  I have had a hard lesson in that this year!  Along with that, only write down your must do’s each day.  Be specific and realistic.  If you keep your list short you are more likely to actually accomplish it.  If there’s extra time you can always do more.  Ok.  Maybe that was more than one time management tip.  You know how I feel about this topic.  :)

The only part of my binder that was lacking was my section to keep sticky notes for my “to-buy” lists.    

So I added them on the inside of the front cover of my notebook.  When I’m running to Target I grab the Target list and toss it in my purse.  My love affair with sticky notes lives on.

So as you can see, this is very similar to my binder.  I just took out the extra stuff that wasn’t a priority and added things that are a priority in my life right now.  This would obviously look different for each of you, but the idea is the same.  Having a place to dump your brain and organize your thoughts makes a world of difference.

Now if I could just get my handy little notepad to wrap all of my Christmas presents for me….

Dear Santa

This is one of several “drafts” of El’s Christmas letter to Santa.  Her top two wish list items keep changing (Santa has learned to hold off on toy making for this child!).  Her top two items change, but wish #3 stays the same.  For “everyone in the hole univers to have a wonderfull christmas and a happy new year.”

That is my wish this year too sweet Ellie.

And p.s.  Santa loves you too.

Tears and Prayers

I have tried a few times this weekend to write something about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary but the tears fill my eyes so quickly.  They blur the computer screen and I haven’t been able to finish.  I don’t know that right now will be any different.  But I feel like I need to write something.  Even though I don’t really know what to say.  I am feeling the same emotions we all are – immense sadness, anger, frustration, despair.  Those precious babies.  The little ones who lost their lives on Friday were the same ages as my girls.  It’s such a magical age.  Those sweet innocent children went to school on Friday excited to see their teachers and friends.  Excited to learn.  Excited for recess.  Excited for Santa to come.  I can’t stop thinking about those amazing teachers and the principal.  How terrified they must have been.  They were all heros.  I can’t stop thinking about the parents hearing the news and not knowing if their child was safe or not.  Not knowing if their friends’ and neighbors’ children were safe or not.  I can’t imagine a worse feeling.  This heartache affects so many people.  Parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, friends, the whole community.  The whole nation.  We are all grieving.  So many lives will never be the same.  I want to scream.  I want to rewind time and do something to stop this from happening.  I want to hold my kids so close and never let them leave our house.  But all I can do is cry and pray.  My prayers go out to everyone at that school.  To the community of Newton Connecticut.  Such a beautiful small town that reminds me for all the world of the beautiful small town I grew up in.  This just all hits too close to home.

Children, staff, and families from the Sandy Hook Elementary School – there is nothing anyone can say or do to take away your pain.  But I pray that you will feel the overwhelming amount of love and sorrow and empathy that we are all feeling.  I pray that you will know how loved you are.  How loved your precious angels are.  I pray that you will feel Gods love and know your angels are safe with Him now.  I pray that you will feel His arms around you.  That you will feel peace and strength and the support of a nation during this most difficult time.