December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas...Cards!

Since this is probably one of the last posts until the New Year, I wanted to show you our Christmas Card. Holiday cards are one of my favorite parts of Christmas. Checking the mailbox everyday in December becomes enjoyable. The hubby leaves me the cards when he collects the mail so I can open them with him. Isn't that sweet? :)

Since I got swamped and never made the clothespin wreath that I saw in pinterest, I decided to display our cards we received by taping them to our entry wall.

Look how great and full it looks? It brings a smile to my face to see all the well wishes from family and friends as soon as I walk in the door. As for us, we decided to go with a picture from our October winter wonderland family portrait session that we surprised my mom with. Did you know if snowed in the Philly area on Halloween? And that that is the only snow we have had this season? Its true. It was a bummer it snowed on Halloween but it allowed us to get some great shots for holiday cards. Check out what picture we picked.
courtesy of Rachel Beck Photography

I love that we actually got James to look at the camera for us. So from us to all of you out there, we wish you a Very Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year!

December 22, 2011

Phanatic about Making Gifts

So this isn't exactly a holiday post but since I have made a few gifts for loved ones this season that I can't show you yet (in case they are reading) I wanted to show you one I made for one of my best friends this year. She is a die hard Phillies say the least.

 I do not usually paint family and friends anything because I am pretty critical of my work and I never know what to paint them. But when it was time to shop for this girl I was drawing blanks on something new and different.

 So I began to think about what she loves and what I can paint that would have meaning and be fun. Then this wonderful "creature" came to mind.

If you live on the east coast or love baseball than you know that this is the Philly Phanatic. He's a big, furry green creature that entertains thousands of people all season long. Looking at him makes me smile.

 It doesn't hurt that he has some killer dance moves. :) Tell me you don't want to dance with him can't right?!

Anyway, now that I had my muse I got to work sketching him out on a 11X14'' canvas. I wanted to use oils because it had always been my favorite medium to work with and I could get really detailed when it came to this lovable guys fur.A week in, it was starting to look like this.

Not much right? I have to admit, it took awhile to sketch out the body.I started with the background because it was the easiest part and it would help set the stage on the colors I would use on him. By week two it was really starting to come together. You could say I was in a groove.

I was really starting to actually like it! I thought about keeping it for myself a few times but I know it would have a better home with my friend. I finished the stadium and made a few touch ups and was left with the final Philly Phanatic.

*drum roll please*
I LOVE IT! I think it came out really great. It wasn't easy and I definitely was ready to throw it against the wall at times but I was really happy with it....and most importantly- so was my friend! Yay for homemade meaningful gifts. Sometimes they can be labor intensive but it is worth it.

Are you making any homemade gifts for the holidays? Do you get as frustrated as I do? Do any of them involve a giant green creature?

December 21, 2011

Christmas Decorating Flashback- Outdoors

So yesterday I gave you a glimpse into our little home and how we decorated for the holidays last year. Simple and to scale with our small ceilings and our smaller living space. For the outside, hubby and I both knew we wanted to have lights outside. I mean- who doesn't love driving by neighborhood houses all lit up? I know I still look forward to seeing all of them. Our house would be no exception.

Tim got to work on the outside.
If you remember we have a tree out front. Well ever since we saw this house, Tim knew he wanted to wrap it in Christmas lights when the time came. He got his wish 5 months later. Look how happy he is! :)
After that we tried to figure out how to decorate the rest of the house. Here were some of the issues we needed to address:
1) our house windows were not completely symmetrical. (The previous owners covered up one of the windows to gain space in the kitchen.)
2) The slant on our roof is so severe that it would be a little too dangerous to try and outline the whole house. 
3) we wanted to decorate our house but didn't want to be "that" house that went a little to extreme.

My in-laws solved the first problem. We inherited this holiday projector that (you guessed it) projected holiday images onto the house. We decided to balance out the window with a simple winter image. Next we decided to outline the small porch with white lights since we couldn't outline the whole house. Finally we used all white lights so they would be cohesive and simple candles and stockings in the top windows to spread cheer without blinding the neighbors.

I loved how it came out. It added just the glow we wanted. Here it is from another angle.

I was so in love with our house the whole month of December. I loved pulling into the driveway and seeing those lights twinkle. 

So what about you guys? Do you decorate the outside of the house too? Do you go all out or just stay simple?

December 20, 2011

Christmas Decorating Flashback- Indoors

I know...two days in a row! and with a broken computer and everything! How does she do it? Thank God for phone apps. Thats all I'm saying.

With Christmas only 5 days away (how did that happen?!) I find myself thinking back to our first Christmas in the house and how excited we were to decorate a whole house however we wanted to.  Here are some pics and tips to decorating a smaller house. (our ceilings are only 7 feet high!)

Look how peaceful our puppy looks!

We went pretty simple last year. We focused a lot on the tree and the mantle. A great tip with a small space is not to overdo it. We had a few Christmas statues on the coffee table and a manger on the small table by the window. Since we couldn't move our furniture too much due to limited space, we needed to get creative.

Our Christmas Tree was one of my favorite things to decorate. We inherited a lot of ornaments from both of our parents so it was nice to incorporate them into our new decorations. Here we focused on red, green and gold ball ornaments to unify the tree amongst all the various decorations. My parents also had some leftover little snowmen that I thought would be a nice touch to add to our tree. We went with a 6 foot tree so it didn't look like we were trying to jam it into our little house. It may be small but it is perfect for the space.

On a side note, I have to tell you a secret...having a fireplace is just as much fun as everyone says it is! When we were house hunting we had a fireplace on our "want" not "need" list but we happened to get lucky when we found this house. We love it and we really use it all the time. It makes our already cozy house seem even more charming. 

For decorations on the mantel we went pretty simple. We did 2 wrapped garlands lit in white lights. (We scored them at Walmart for like $2.50 a strand!) Then we just decorated it with some simple fake poinsettia flowers and a little Charlie Brown Christmas figurines. Tim loves Charlie Brown Christmas so we picked these up when they were on sale last year. The Santa in the middle was actually something we inherited from our in laws. I love Santa's and this one had a globe and everything.

So there are a few pictures of how we look our main room and made it a little more festive. In a small space, simple was better.

Is everyone done decorating? Did you go with a theme or just put up your favorite decorations? How about shopping? I just finished yesterday! I even tried not to procrastinate.

December 19, 2011

Gingerbread house show down

So while my computer situation is still going on, I thought I would share with you a time honored tradition with our best friends...making gingerbread houses... out of graham crackers. In our defense we tried using real gingerbread one year and it was a disaster. 

Over the years we have slowly perfected the art of creating them and there is really only one rule: no kits!

(warning these pics were taken with my phone so the quality is awful)

This year we really knocked them out of the part. We consider no roof collapses a successful night.

Take a look at our masterpieces.

We have mine.

Hubby's- his is apparently called "frosty's last stand" (boys- haha)

And our friends who knocked it out of the park!

Look at that chimney and the right one is a replica of these house- aww

Wow- those doors rock!
First submarine gingerbread house!

All in all it was our best one yet! It is a tradition I hold near and dear to my heart and its always a ton of fun to bust on each others houses.

Do any of you make gingerbread houses? Any traditions you have with your friends during this season?

December 16, 2011

Christmas invasion at work

So while my computer is getting fixed, I thought I would show you guys how I decked out my office window for Christmas. A small tree and some left over decorations we couldn't fit on the tree make it ready for the holidays. It's definitely a Matthews craptacular so enjoy!

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