Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Holidays

I have to say that this Christmas was, by far, the best Christmas I've had in years.  Everyone came to our house this year and what an honor and what a blast it was!  For the record, I loved each member of Mike's family from the moment I met them.  They are one of the warmest and funniest families I know.  But this year was different from the past two holidays I've spent with was the best!  For the first time, I felt like I was 100% a part of this family and I have to say I have the best siblings ever.  Here are some of the pictures of our fun-filled holiday together.  Enjoy!

While I was building a fire, Joe was prepping the turkey.

Then came the present opening!
Always good for a laugh! :)
My first little blue box! LOVE! 
SHMILY: See How Much I Love You. <3                                      
Viktor and Rolf.
Mike did such a great job!
 On to the cooking!  And everyone brought their A-Game for this meal!
Making my mom's stuffing.
How great does Joe's turkey look?!
The whole family! :)
And a great portion of holiday entertainment was brought to us by the Original Nintendo.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday with the ones you love!  I wish you all a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy Holidays!

My favorite time of the year is officially here and I can't contain my excitement of decorating our house for the first time!  Mike has been such a trooper with all of my decorating purchases and I'm so thankful to have someone who understands my need for such decorating.

Like so many of you, I have so many wonderful memories of the traditions that once existed in my family.  I say once existed because after my mom's death everything changed and so did the traditions.  While I'm embracing the new traditions, especially the ones I've made with Mike's family and my dad, my heart always craves Mom's Traditions.

At one point in my teens my mom decided that there was no more real Christmas tree and that all of the old ornaments and decorations were going into storage to make way for a brand new artificial tree and shiny new ornaments and decorations.  I didn't understand it at first, I felt like she was taking away everything that had ever been sacred to us in years past.  Now that I'm older, I not only totally understand, but I now intend to carry this tradition.  Growing up, everything in our house during the Christmas season was silver, white, and gold.  We had a whole set of decorations that came out to replace the everyday decor for just that short period of time.  There was something magical about it.  And so the new traditions started.

This is the perfect time to share with you one of my favorite memories of my mom:  After she got sick, she had to sit out the Christmas tree decorating because she couldn't stand long enough, let alone sit.  So she'd lay on the couch and we'd position her so she could watch us.  She would have us lay all of the ornaments out on the carpet and we'd pick them up one by one and she would direct us to the exact place she wanted it on the tree.  Sounds like it was the perfect situation, but I would always tease her about her "exact specifications" the following morning.  Why?  Every year after decorating the tree, you would wake the next morning to find multiple ornaments rearranged.  She would always tell me that when she couldn't sleep at night, she would start thinking about the tree and second guessing where she had us put certain ones.  So in an effort to make the tree perfect, she would drag herself out of bed in the middle of the night like a little elf, and move ornaments.  I always smile when I think of this memory and how I once thought her to be out of her mind.

Now I find myself in her shoes with that exact need for holiday perfection.  So I'd love to share with you guys my first year of making those traditions, and my own, come true!

I chose our holiday colors last year and that was kind of the start to making Christmas our own.  Everything you'll see is white, silver, and a soft purple color.  So let's start with the mantel!

My mom always had reindeer figurines up during the holiday, so when I saw these stocking holders, my heart just melted!

I've been reading a lot of really great blogs and articles online about thinking outside of the box for the holidays and ways to save money while making your house look amazing!  So with that in mind, I fell into a trap at Michaels one day and found these awesome picture holders, but thought they'd look awesome by themselves on the mantel.

I'm so in love with them!  And all of that fuss in the background of the photo was also part of the trap!  I found garland that was on sale and couldn't say no.  It's this fantastic white garland that looks like thin branches and sparkles everywhere! :)

Stockings were a pretty stressful event in my life this holiday, as these were the first I've ever bought.  I've been on this huge up-cycling kick in life and these stockings were perfect for that purpose!  Both of our stockings were up-cycled from old wool sweaters, super-cool right?!  Then I had this idea to get vintage brooches for each of our stockings to class them up a bit.  So here's my stocking and brooch ( I had to take a couple shots of my brooch since it's so wonderful!):

And here's Mikes:

Before getting to my favorite part, the presents under the tree, here are a couple of the neat tips I learned this year.
I tied some ribbon around our pillows just to give them a little holiday flare.  The best part is, I already had this ribbon from last year's gifts.

This was a pretty inexpensive addition as well.  It looks great on the coffee table, especially when all the candles are lit!

For the time being, I'm only allowing myself to get a couple tree ornaments a year.  Since I went a little crazy on other items this year, I balanced it out with only one new addition.  Thank you Pier 1 for this lovely!

And how realistic do those branches look on our tree?  Mike gets all the credit for picking this one out! :)

Now there's nothing I love more than wrapping presents in preparation for the holiday.  My favorite thing in the world is putting them under the tree and arranging them so I can rearrange them later!  Here's a few shots of what's going on under our tree!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with the ones you love and I can't wait to share our holiday fun with you afterwards!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Little Abby

This past weekend Abby and I headed out to the 151 to do a drive that has become a full blown tradition.  I had a grande chai apple juice with a shake of cinnamon (think, nice hot apple cider) in my hand and my Christmas music loaded.  I love doing this drive year round, but something about the fall puts a touch of special on it.  The 151 is a forest service road north of the Peaks and it takes you on a loop.  I love working my way south on it so I can follow the mountain as I get closer.  The leaves were at their best and we picked the perfect day to go.

The road looked like this pretty much the whole way.

And a couple more photos of the leaves everywhere...

I take Abby out there with me so I can take pictures of her and that way I kind of have an album of her.  I also find that she is the perfect model for practice because she's totally unpredictable and you have to move fast to catch her!  Here are some photos of her from this weekend:
And I had to take a picture of my new Argus film camera that I've been having so much fun with!

Here are some of the photos I took of Abby last year in the same spot:

While I'm at's a little background.  Abby was a given to me as a gift from my mom and dad.  They surprised me with her on Mother's Day weekend when I'd come home from college.  It is probably one of my favorite memories I have of my mom.  My parents always made things more extravagant than was necessary and this wasn't any different.  They had placed different items a first time dog owner would need around the house, things like food, a kennel, treats, etc.  After every gift there were paper arrows on the ground pointing me in the direction of the next gift.  The last one I received was a tiny dog collar with a pink dog tag that read, Abby Onnen.  I still couldn't figure out what was going on and why they'd gone through all of this trouble, especially on a weekend that was suppose to be about my mom.  After the collar there were three large arrows pointing to the closet.  I opened the closet and didn't immediately see her, then she walked to the front of the kennel she was placed in and lightly tapped the kennel door.  All I remember after that is grabbing my mom and crying with her.  Abby was two months old and just under two pounds.  She was one of the greatest gifts I've ever received and I think because of the importance of the way my mom gave her to me, she's always been just a little more than a pet.  She's been my best friend and at times she was all I had to hold on to.

Here are several more of my photos that I've taken of her in the past that are my absolute favorites: