Thursday, December 22, 2011

O Christmas Tree

Our living room Christmas tree is artificial and eleven years old, but day and night, lit up and decorated with sentimental handblown glass and cloisonne ornaments, it makes us feel warm and happy.

Most of our ornaments were gifts from family and friends or collected through travels; a few were made by the kids; others, I purchased at boutiques, bazaars, and after-Christmas sales over the years. Regardless of its origin, each ornament has a story, and a memory.

This last ornament above is from Austin-based Paloma's Nest; their work is beautiful and makes lovely wedding and baby gifts.

Our tree represents our young family well: busy; colorful; a mix of sophisticated, silly, and sloppy; and very, very joyful.  Christmases are indeed merry around here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Reading with the Kids

There is no better time than the holidays to snuggle with a sweet child and a good book.  Our home library is stocked with these Christmas-themed favorites:

What are your Christmas classics?

(Sharing with 5 Minutes for Books)

Holiday Treats for Classmates

Stuffed with (gluten-free, egg-free, nut-free) candy, ready for distribution to my daughter's kindergarten classmates:

The personalized muslin favor bags are from Perideau Designs.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Home for the Holidays: Our Nativity Scene

This Lenox First Blessing nativity set brings the peace of Christmas to our otherwise chaotic family room.

The porcelain figurines are beautifully painted.  I collected them over several years in my mid-twenties; they are now heirlooms for my daughters.

Which pieces of your Christmas decor are most meaningful to you?

(Sharing with A Thoughtful Place)


The most wonderful package arrived in the mail today, a box that smelled so yummy that the delivery guy didn't want to part with it.  Inside: Benton's Hickory Smoked Country Bacon, from Tennessee.  

Yes, bacon.  In the mail.  8 pounds of it, to be exact.  And it is truly the *best* bacon --- thick slices, hickory smoked in a wood stove, dry-cured for months.

My dear mother-in-law introduced us to Benton's a few years ago, when she sent some as as gift.  She said it was the best bacon ever, and of course, she was right.  Since then, we've been gifted with bacon on several occasions, and Benton's bacon has become a staple at our holiday brunches.  This year, my husband insisted that we order it in bulk, to ensure we don't run out when our guests demand thirds and fourths.  So, we did.  And we are happy.

I promise I am not being paid for this post --- by Benton's or by the pork lobbyists or by anyone else.  But when you find something so uniquely good, you just have to share it.  Trust me, and order some Benton's bacon today.  They take a few weeks to send it out, but it is worth the wait!  You can always diet after New Year's!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mother-Daughter Holiday Tea Party (2011)

Last week, I wrote about the resurrection of our holiday tea party tradition in 2010; you can read about it here.  My then-four-year-old loved every minute of the planning and partying.  So, of course, we had to do it again!

This year, we started with a charming invitation on beautiful paper from Sarah + Abraham which played on the same silhouette theme we used for the older girls' birthday party in May:

(and yes, I realize that a lot is lost by blurring out so much of the text, but you can still appreciate the sweet silhouettes!)

Next, we tweaked tradition with a purple, magenta, and fuchsia color scheme (in which I re-used many of the amethyst elements from my youngest's christening celebration) and invited 42 of my daughters' friends and their moms to the party.  After waiting patiently for our guests to arrive...

...the fun started, and the result was vibrant in every sense:

We served tea sandwiches, madeleines, scones, quiche, fruit, three kinds of tea (including pink princess tea), pink cocoa, wine for the moms, and many desserts --- cake balls, chocolate covered oreos, macarons, cupcakes, cookies, shortbread, eclairs, cream puffs, and fudge.  There was no carbohydrate shortage.

After over two hours of playing, eating, and lots and lots of squealing, the girls raided the pink and purple candy buffet and filled personalized bags with their favorites --- m&ms, salt water taffy, lollipops, peppermint sticks, Hershey's kissses, chocolate balls, rock candy sticks, ribbon candy, raspberry pretzels, chocolate covered sunflower seeds, and more:

Four days later, we are still on a sugar high.  And we feel blessed to have shared this holiday tradition with so many lovely friends.  We're already looking forward to next year!

Invitations: Sarah + Abraham
Personalized Muslin Favor Bags: Perideau Designs
Custom Chocolate-Dipped Oreos: Sweeties by Kim
Cake Balls: Austin Cake Balls
Macarons: La Patisserie
Candy: Candy Warehouse & Lammes
Ornament Jars: Crate & Barrel
Apothocary Jars: Michael's; Pottery Barn
Amethyst plates and napkins: Crate & Barrel

Special thanks to Kathie Quinn for sharing her photos!

I'm sharing this post with Between Naps on the Porch, Savvy Southern Style, Sweetology, Martha's Favorites, Silken Purse, and Design Dazzle.