Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas Home

A Christmas home is so special, and the comforts and joys it exudes to those who truly call it home are unparalleled by any other time of year.
Growing up, my Momma always did so much work to transform our home from a house for the daily grind,
to a beautiful, candlelit haven where hope and joy were celebrated in an extra special way for those few weeks in December.
The return of the decorations every year are a symbol and a reminder to me that no matter what bitterness or happiness the year may hold, the candles and garland, the tree and lights will be brought out again, and they will remind us.
Remind us that hope came.
Remind us that we have hope with us, always.
And that next year, we will still have hope. 
Maybe not health, or a job, or money in the stock market, or ease, but hope we will certainly have.

I love homes where I can tell that the Christmas items spread throughout the house like bowls and blankets and mugs and quilts and ornaments have been gathered over a lifetime, all preparing for this special time of year. 
Reminds me, I should probably make a little trip this weekend to Pottery Barn to see what they have in after-Christmas sales this year.
I have to admit, I haven't taken down our tree yet, and have no immediate plans to do so.
How about you?
Is your tree up through the new year?

"And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us." Romans 5:5

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

And Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!
I had a white, very white Christmas, and I hope that wherever you spent this holiday, white or not, that it was meaningful.

I know I'll never forget this Christmas, with the beautiful foot of snow we got at the lake house, and
opening a Canon Rebel DSLR camera on Christmas morning!!
I was completely convinced that a camera was not in any of my gifts under the tree, so there were tears of pure surprise as well as happiness!
The love of my family, Neal's family, and of course my husband, is so humbling.

While it's cold and snowy outside, and probably will be for a couple more months, I'm thinking it's the perfect season to curl up and read the manual.
If you have any photography books or resources (for someone who knows next to nothing!!), I'd love to hear your favorites!

I'll be catching up here in the new few days with more of the Anderson 2010 Christmas season.  Can't wait to be back more regularly and hear from all of you!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Let Your Heart Be Light

For as early as I started thinking about and planning for Christmas this year,
I'm honestly surprised that the past 2 weeks have been like they have.
I haven't had a spare second,
not even to show you some pics of how we've been bringing down the house with Christmas around here!
In the busyness, I miss seeing my friends more.  I miss having more relaxed time to enjoy Christmas in the city.
But then I think about the variables making me so busy like 
job applications that are time sensitive, 
a teaching trip to Cleveland, 
Neal's graduation (tomorrow!), 
house guests, 
and Christmas parties, parties, parties (we have one every single night next week, Sunday through Thursday),
and I realize that this Christmas has a lot more going on than just Christmas.
Somehow it just happened that way this year.
And all I can think of is I'm so glad I shopped early!

 The Christmas goodies I picked up on errands this week, now laying around the house waiting for their turn to shine.
My heart is feeling heavy tonight, because amidst it all, I've started feeling bad again.
Physically, I do go through seasons of better and worse, and I'm, well, sad that "worse" is hitting me right now in the midst of my favorite part of Christmas and a time when the calendar is so full.
 Not that you ever want to feel especially not good, but... especially not now, if you know what I mean.
So, tonight, I have a few pictures that make my heart feel lighter, which is part of Christmas.
Last weekend, we had a really Christmasy weekend.
Friday I spent the day shopping on Michigan Avenue with my Mom, and the lights, our laughter, our fun, our finds, made it all fit deliciously into the holiday spirit.
It was one of my favorite days I've had with my Mom in awhile.
I love you Momma, and tonight remembering our day on Michigan Ave. makes my heart light!

Anthropologie, of course.

Momma found the perfect Christmas jacket.
We were both so excited!!
And, we got the last one, making it even that much more of a find!

She bought me a couple of the latte bowls, which I'm collecting.
Now I'll always think of this day when I use the red and mustard ones.

Leave it to Anthro to have the coolest designs.
Love the mittens.

I can't decide which was more fun, Anthropologie or getting Mom outfitted with my very favorite Stila products.
Oh, Stila.  It really is my favorite.

We're so predictable.
3:30 found us at a window table in Starbucks.

It breaks my heart how much I love her!
She is so wise, so beautiful, so deep, so fun.
So loving.
It made me a teeny bit sad that of all the faces I see across tables at Starbucks, it rarely gets to be hers.
I'd take a coffee date with her any day.
Michigan Avenue was beautiful!  We gushed the whole way.
Let your heart be light...

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tradition: The 12 Days of Christmas

Hi, there.
Has really just a week gone by since we've been home from Thanksgiving?
It seems like the land of fall and pie and turkey is over a few distant mountains, 
and we're living in the land of snow and lights and Christmas planning.
And, the land of wearing my Christmas flannel PJ pants every second that I'm home and staying ever close to the bowl of red and green M+Ms.  Oops. 

But, I'm not all bad.  This year, I've already finished all my Christmas shopping and have dropped all of my Christmas cards into the mail!  
It feels fantastic, and I love that the last thing on my mind is online shopping and rushing out to stores.  
 I think I've started a new tradition for myself with the early shopping and card sending, at least I hope. 

Traditions, even at the age of 26, are something I'm always scheming up.
There's a sense of security with traditions, of belonging, and of really owning the holidays, instead of letting them own you.
I imagine most of the traditions our little Anderson family will have over the years are yet to be; I imagine some of the ones we have now in our 20's city life will morph into different versions, as life does the same.
Even so, Neal & I have a tradition that we started our very first Christmas that I think we're holding onto for good.

This will be our 5th Christmas of doing the 12 Days of Christmas for each other.
You know, "On the __th day of Christmas my true love gave to me..."
For 12 days in December leading up to Christmas, we give the other person a card with a surprise date, activity, gift, or otherwise on the card for us to share that day.
And, it's usually something more relevant than a partridge in a pear tree.

I found these really cute 12 days of Christmas cards this year from Elle's Studio, which I can't wait to use, starting tomorrow!

Buy here from Elle's Studio 
My favorite thing about our 12 days of Christmas tradition is not the coffee dates, the dance under the Christmas tree, or some really sweet surprise I didn't see coming, no not those things in and of themselves.
It's the tradition of choosing to spend time with Neal every day for almost two weeks- time that would otherwise be frazzled over with wrapping, rushed errands, baking messes in the kitchen, and spending time at Christmas parties with every other person we know except each other.

Sometimes, like this year, I don't know how we'll find the time to pull off the 12 days of Christmas.  
But, we're choosing to (we'd both be way too sad not to!), and I know everything else will fall into place around those 12 surprise dates, that we'll make special holiday memories between the two of us, and that I'll go to bed happy every night because my Christmas truly will be about spending special time with the ones I love, and the one I love the most.

Hopefully, I'll post a few of our surprises here.
I have no doubt you could find your own little 12 days of Christmas to give to someone you love most.
Sure, it takes a little work and a little time, but trust me, it doesn't have to be perfect, and the memories last a lot longer than whatever you'll give and get for Christmas this year. 
Better go make sure I'm ready for day 1 tomorrow.
Stay warm this week!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving Holiday

At 9:22pm the day before Thanksgiving, Momma was still going strong baking pies.
 Earlier in the week, she had mass texted to find out people's pie requests.
Turns out there were 14 different kinds requested, and if you know anything about my momma, she was not about to leave out someone's favorite pie.
What worked out well about this scenario is that we ate pie all day every day for about 4 days.

This year, I brought the cinnamon rolls for Thanksgiving morning.
I was expecting more teasing for their less-than-Tiff's-perfect-ones status,
but everyone seemed beyond satisfied with this family favorite.
In our family, we know a good cinnamon roll.

Neal & I climbed out of bed early on Thanksgiving morning and cozied into the already busy kitchen with Mom before everyone got up.
You would have thought we had Thanksgiving morning mistaken for Christmas.

Preparations for the Thanksgiving feast.



So many people to be thankful for.
 This picture's quality isn't too good, but man, is it sweet of Garrett and his daddy.




Tiff and her boys.
Seems fitting that at least one little boy would be out of focus from all the wiggling :)


And then, there were a few days of fireside sitting.

Of country sunrises

 and sunsets

of family dinners

and music

of hoodies and baby nephew snuggling

and of Christmas coming to hurry us back home again soon.

I have a Christmas book going, 
peppermint hot chocolate handy, 
red and green m+ms's in a bowl on the counter, 
and flannel Christmas pajama pants making their way back into the scene.
And this morning, we got snow!
I think I see a few more flurries still going, but 18 stories up, it's always hard to see.