Pretty things of the day: fresh evergreen

The holiday tradition in my childhood home involved lots of fresh pine needles and arguing over whose turn it was to water the tree. The smell of pine evokes for me such powerful memories.

In our house this year, I was thankful for the faux tree and it's pre-lit wonder. Seemed there were fewer hours than in a normal December, or at least fewer of them to spend on holiday decor. I was also thankful for a thoughtful friend's birthday gift: a fresh balsam wreath. Bonus: it's in the shape of our new last-name monogram. How fun! Little did she know she was also giving me a breath in of memories each time I walk past it in our little entryway.

I love fresh holiday touches (and I'm sure you remember that I love fresh flowers ANY time of year!). Favorites: paperwhite bulbs, moss-adorned wreaths, mistletoe (with its adorable white berries), magnolia leaves, and of course evergreen and pine.

(classy wreath with tiny bells from newlywed diaries)

(paperwhites from young house love)

(charming, earthy entryway from Martha Stewart)

I've just kind of realized that I can DO some of these things. Eureka! Next year I'd love to incorporate touches like these at our home... and maybe I can convince myself and my hubby that it's time to try a fresh tree for ourselves.


DIY: Homegrown gift idea

We tended a large garden this summer. Patrick's hard work, green thumb, and the blessing of rain and mild temperatures made for more plenty than we could consume.

I learned so much about food. Did you know zucchini start as the stem of a gorgeous orange flower? Did you know that one corn stalk only bears a few ears? Or the work involved in picking green beans, one-by-one, from rows of full, low-to-the-ground plants? These are all lessons new to this city girl. Amazing.

So, as I enjoyed the novelty of our backyard bounty and canned many many jars of goodies (or watched the experts do the work), I knew sharing it with others would make it even more special ... and so our "homegrown holidays" gifts were born.

This holiday, I packaged up jars of salsa, green beans, banana peppers, and tomato juice in sweet little boxes or simple brown paper bags. Labels keep it lighthearted and personal. The fresh salsa, for example, is labeled: "not too spicy, not too sweet. made with love, onions, & homegrown banana peppers, green bell peppers, & tomatoes from the Anderson garden (plus a heap of manual labor & a pinch of patient wife)."

The boxes were a Hobby Lobby half-off find. The labels are old address labels I had laying around. Since I'm an admitted craft-challenged gal, I have to say it kind of turned out adorably. Now I only wish we'd made more salsa in August so I could gift more of it!

Happy homegrown holidays! What are you making this year?


Gentle snow & stress relief

A sweet little snow is falling outside our windows this Saturday morning. It's the wet kind that melts on your palm instantly, but looks fluffy as it tumbles from the overcast clouds. It's technically the first day of my holiday vacation, and it's a desperately needed relief.

It's hard for me to believe that even without a wedding to plan, I still find it hard to do nice things for myself like keeping this blog updated regularly. We had a whirlwind December so far, and I plan to spend some me-time over the next two weeks posting about some of our adventures: Patrick's 30th birthday, the merits of a dishwasher (!), and I may even bite the bullet and post the drafts I've written about married money management or work-life balance.

But, for today and for the rest of this weekend, I'm going to watch the snow fall, hum holiday tunes (thanks Shea and Jamie!), wrap gifts, and be a little more gentle with myself. Maybe suck down a few pots of coffee, read my new book (thanks LRE!) or take a few winter walks with Ozzie.

Happy holidays, readers! Thanks for sticking around this blog during the barren days of this December.