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happy holidays. plural.

i've been reading about the stink being raised about whether people and stores greet with "happy holidays" or "merry christmas." turns out, this time of year, you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.

can't we just all be happy and cheerful and gracious?

regardless of where you fall in this argument, i want to offer up my most sincere wishes that you and your family enjoy a wonderful season, whether you celebrate the birth of christ or eight days of oil or santa or a yule log or whatever. i hope you and yours are surrounded by peace, joy, magic, thankfulness, and blessings.

Dec cvr
(and since there are technically five shopping days left, have you checked out andie smith designs' storyboards and actions and presets yet?)

Xmas poppy


all morning (keep in mind, it's only 9:20), i've been watching the most beautiful snow fall ... big flakes, falling silently straight down to the ground. nothing like the swirling mass of snowglobe blizzard that we had last weekend. this snow is calm, peaceful, creating a white curtain over a world that is already white.

i love white.

about a dozen years ago, i found a book at a half-price book store. it was published by victoria magazine, and was called "at home with white." i bought it immediately and have been smitten ever since, periodically flipping through the pages of white-on-white rooms, vintage linens, subtle shades of gray-white and blue-white next to white painted furniture and ironstone. i knew from that moment that white, truly, is the color that makes me happiest and feel the most calm.

6a010534adb750970b0120a657a234970c Bathroom

(photo sources unknown)

sure, i love buttery yellow and olivey green and aqua and red. but i couldn't surround myself with any of those colors ... i need a base. white is that base.

i have a large binder of pages i've pulled from magazines and catalogs over the years, in preparation for when the time came that i could totally take control of a house ... have free reign over the final product.

(by that i don't necessarily mean "building" a house ... truly, in a million years, i never thought we would do that. what i mean is finally having the time and resources to really do to a house what we (i) want to do to a house and make it the place we want to be. in our first house, i saw that white, cottagey, adorable bungalow potential. i had big plans, but we never had a big bank account. we made do with paint, and closed our eyes to walk past the rooms that never got the full attention we wanted to give them.

in our current house, we've had to deal with what was already here, because we knew this house was the stopping off point between "first house" and "last house." we were willing to stay here until we were able to be in the house we WANTED to be in long-term. so we put as little money into the house for aesthetic things as possible. sure, we've upgraded things that will help sell (new stainless appliances, new front-loading washer and dryer, new bathroom in the basement ... that blends with the rest of the house's style, new brushed nickel doorknobs and light fixtures for continuity, new garage door and exterior paint, etc.), but we haven't really put OUR style mark on this house. every style choice we've made in this house has been made to GO with this house. and it all looks nice, it's just not exactly *us.* the goal all along has been to maintain and upgrade what would be attractive to a buyer when the time came, keeping in mind the style and price point of our neighborhood.)

in this binder are page after page of things that caught my eye, and there is a predominant theme: white. white kitchens, white tile in bathrooms, white slipcovered furniture, white woodwork and trim ... all grounded by chrome or nickel, dark wood floors, and pops of color in the art and accessories.

as i look around at the decorations i've bought for christmas, i notice the white theme again ... red and apple green and white, to be specific. and looking through my holiday ideas folder, the red and apple green and white becomes even more apparent.


(eddie ross)


(a creative mint)


(a country farmhouse)

Kikilaru bunting


the spirit of christmas and the magic and peace of the season are what i crave and anticipate year-long, and i have to wonder if some of that anticipation comes from once again being surrounded by white? by things that are more my style and taste? maybe i love snow so much because it diffuses the chaos of color, the uniform drabness of brown?

marc and i are both giddy about next year ... about creating our space. i'm farmhouse and whimsical, he's modern and industrial, so we're excited to see how those two thought processes blend. but i guarantee you: there will be a lot of white.

snOMG ... it's snowmaggedon!!!

remember ... about a month ago, the week before thanksgiving, we got 8" of wet heavy snow and it decimated our tree out front?

then last weekend, we had snowlapalooza around here ... another 9" of fluffy white stuff arrived early saturday morning ...

well ... those two events got NOTHIN' on the snowpocalypse we're getting right now.

this was marc's car yesterday afternoon ... he was in connecticut all week and didn't clean off his car after last weekend's snow, so it's been just sitting there:

and here's the back deck yesterday afternoon ... it was a beautiful day, and the last four weeks' worth of snow looked lovely:

well, at 10 a.m., it all looked like this:

so i curled up on the sofa with my coffee and slippers, turned on the fire, and enjoyed the quiet beauty of it all.

however, after lunch i got to thinking that we already had 10" of snow that was blowing around and drifting like crazy. and the weather guys were saying we were only halfway through the storm. so shoveling sounded prudent.

however ... i could open the front door only partially because of all the snow. once i finally got outside, the first thing i did was shovel off the porch.

then i had to shovel the next two steps. you don't see the next two steps? hmm. well, neither could i.

i finally made it off the porch and found myself mid-thigh in snow ...


*insert giddy giggle here*

that giddiness quickly faded, though, as harper had issues with snow blowing in her face and being cold.

(umm ... helllooo ... don't stand right where i'm shoveling and the snow won't blow in your face, ding dong.) then i had to race across the front yard in higher-than-knee-deep snow to grab her out of a snowbank and carry her back to the house because she got yet another face full of snow. by this point i was out of breath, my legs were wet and freezing, and i'd managed to shovel only about a two square foot section of the driveway.


so there was a new plan: i handed the shovel off to marc so he could shovel just enough to dig out the man car and move it up next to mine. tomorrow? we call our guy with a bobcat, give him fifty bucks, and let him dig out the rest.

because we're still only halfway through the storm.

and tomorrow? it's supposed to be -20 outside.

*giddiness gone.*

oh, mystery tree! oh, mystery tree!

how happily you surprised us!

last weekend we went to a customer appreciation event at our realtor's office. they were offering free trees or wreaths, visits with santa, snacks ... so we decided to take part, since actually getting to a tree farm wasn't in the scheduling cards this year.

the office was taking 'toys for tots' donations, so on friday the kids and i went shopping ... i figured we weren't paying for a tree, so the least we could do was donate the same amount in goodies for the kiddos. the kids had fun picking out toys and jewelry (we tried to focus on items for ages 12 and up ... i think that age group gets forgotten too often), and it led to a good talk on service and giving.

anyway, saturday morning we headed to the realty office, dropped off the items we brought, and next stop was santa and the mrs ...

henry was being a bit of a grinch about the santa thing (he IS almost 11, after all), but when push comes to shove, he's not ready to give it up. the rule around here is that santa is the magical spirit of christmas and giving, and whether he's real or a myth doesn't matter; when you stop believing in him, he stops believing in you. i like to think henry is hanging onto the magic; i suspect he's hanging onto the guarantee of a gift.

when harper had her turn, she froze ... wasn't sure what to ask for ... and finally she came up with the stuffed penguin in a parka that she'd just seen that morning at swim lessons. henry was more motivated - dragonquest ix for the ds, and a nerf something-or-other.

after that, we headed to the snack table, found a drink of water, got a little bag of reindeer food from our realtor's adorable daughter, then wandered out back to see the reindeer.

one of the reindeer wranglers had an antler we could hold to see how heavy it is. marc channeled his inner max ...

(you know, max:)


then henry decided he could do it better ...

then we turned in our tree ticket, found one all bundled up that fit the height criteria and seemed a little fatter than the others, crossed our fingers, and tied it onto the car, hoping that our mystery tree would turn out to be lovely.

we drove home, passing a monster cadillac on the way ...

(simultaneously fascinating, horrifying, and hilarious)

then marc took off to work the rest of the day away.

sunday morning, marc popped the mystery tree in the stand, we unbound it, and i willed the branches to drop and surprise us with loveliness. by that afternoon, it was starting to find it's shape.

and the aroma? oh my goodness ... i've never smelled a more fantastically fragrant tree!

monday night we decorated the mystery tree:

and after the kids went to bed, i did my task: tinseling the branches.

poll time regarding tinsel: do you drape a single strand on the edge of each branch tip, so it dangles delicately and shimmers like ice? or do you grab a clump, toss it at the tree, and where it lands, it lands? or c) none of the above?

i'm a draper. i'm a one-strand-on-each-branch-all-the-way-around-the-tree draper. it's prettiest that way.

and now, pop quiz time: how do you know when you've married the right guy?

answer: he's the one who willingly lays one strand of tinsel on each branch that is out of your reach. even though he hates every second of it.

because he knows that you believe that's how tinsel looks its best.

before we went to bed, i gave mystery tree another full drink of water. (can i just proudly point out that mystery tree has drunk two full bases of water a day since sunday? good job, mystery tree!) and after i pulled the tree skirt back into place, i stood back and admired ... mystery tree had, indeed, turned into a beautiful tree. actually given the size and shape and drinkyness and fragrance, i might go so far as to say this is one of the best trees we've ever had.

so much for the hours of driving, walking, debating, cutting, pulling, shaking, binding, buying, tying, driving. this tree was easy, and is amazing.

we love you, mystery tree.

hello, december.

the past week has flown by and we are all in recovery mode. thanksgiving was fine ... busy. i took a grand total of nine photos the entire weekend.

the table on thanksgiving day ...

the girls, bundled up to play outside ...

(kayla, the visiting hoosier niece/cousin, was so excited to see that we had snow, but didn't totally understand when we told her it was "too cold to play outside" ... wind chill was, i think, 3 degrees. so we wrapped the girls up within an inch of their lives and sent them out. kayla played for quite awhile. harper? she was in within 10 minutes because she was "too hot." that's my little minnesotan.)

and the girls on the day after thanksgiving, sitting with grandpa ...

and there you have it.


in all honesty, at some point i think i would like to try being a GUEST for thanksgiving. november and december are always insanely busy for us and for marc's travel schedule, so by the time we get to thanksgiving and i get through all the cleaning and cooking, on top of kid stuff (and this year i had the added pleasure of a colonoscopy four days before everyone arrived), and the expense i turn a disgusted blind eye to when buying all the food a month before xmas (food we will, inevitably, throw away half of because everyone leaves and then i'm left with the leftovers, and no one in my family will actually EAT leftovers except me, and there's only so much dark meat and stuffing a person can endure.), i find very little joy in thanksgiving. the entire first half of the day is spent in the kitchen, the second half of the day i typically take a nap because the preceding week has worn me out, then friday people usually scatter ... to shop, to watch football, to nap, to whatever ... then everyone leaves saturday. i felt like i never actually sat and relaxed and visted with anyone. and that takes a lot of the joy out of all the cleaning and cooking and money spending.

call me a thanksgiving grinch, i guess. i miss the days of getting to just hang out and laugh and play games and help with dishes, etc. since becoming a grown-up, we've hosted 12 of of the last 14 thanksgivings at our house, and while we love having family here (and, truthfully, what fun is thanksgiving without people to share it with?), i feel like the day and day after go by in a blur, and i somehow missed all of it.

next year? we do nothing. nothing. we sit, the four of us, in the new house and just ... relax. enjoy. be.

i'm looking forward to that.

we've had so many trips this year and spent so much time in indiana that we decided next year, given how hectic and expensive the build and move will be, we aren't going anywhere. we'll be happy to have company come up whenever they'd like once we get settled, but for a change we'll be staying put.

we did go see "tangled" on friday, which was fantastic and magical and aesthetically beautiful. in fact, i think it's my new favorite of the princess movies. it was actually ... feminist. i loved that.

and saturday morning - everyone left. that evening, henry and i went to see the next-to-last harry potter, which was also great. we were totally geeking out when it was over and are on a race to re-read the series before the last movie in july.

and now it's december. true to history and my previous prediction in september, it's already chaos. marc's schedule over the next three weeks is ridiculous. our plans to get a tree keep getting waylaid, and now i'm kicking myself for not sticking to my proclamation that i would. not. decorate. this year. it just bums me out to not get the house in the spirit, but it's just not worth the hassle and aggravation this year.

next year? we do nothing. nothing. just like thanksgiving. we sit in our new house, and just ... relax. enjoy. be.

and i'm looking forward to that, too.

harper and i are starting our december crafts, so i'll be sharing those. today, though? we're chilling. the past three days have been non-stop crazy and we both need a break. and i'm also starting to work on filling in the 365/52 i've missed in the past two months. expect a way oversized post on that soon.

and on we push with december.