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I love Christmas. Its my favorite holiday, after my birthday. So its no surprise that my collection of Christmas decorations grows each year. And now that I have a toddler, my supply of ornaments, art, crafts and cards is about to grow exponentially.

Now, I do plan to scan every last one of my son’s masterpieces, saving them digitally and turning them into a book, but I love my kid’s art and want to display at least some of it, especially at Christmas. So, I picked up an empty frame at Hobby Lobby, had Hubby put a piece of cork board in it, and hung the finished product over my mantel.

Eventually, I think I’ll need something a bit bigger, but for now, this works wonderfully for the art being produced. Now, I must admit that I blatantly stole this idea from my mother, who has a very large version of this (she claims she used an old frame from Wal-Mart). Hers comes out only at Christmas and displays about 10 or so of her favorite Christmas-themed crafts my brother and I ever created over the course of our 17 years of schooling. Hands down, its one of my favorite things about Christmas.

Of course, I also had to create something else to add to my Christmas decor. I love monograms, so when I saw some monogrammed felt ornaments on Pinterest, I knew I had to make them.

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This was a super easy project, mainly because I had everything but the batting on hand.  My ornaments ended up being about 3-inches in diameter, and the letters were varying sizes (the “C” was the largest at 200 pt, the “K” was slightly smaller, and the “M” was 150 pt or less). I modified mine just a tad to make this a simpler project; rather than sewing the letters on, I used Heat N Bond (this also makes this a project that can be done without a sewing machine). Rather than putting them on my tree, I used mine to jazz up my ancient wreath.

I’ve gone back and forth over liking them here, and I’ve decided I love them. Seeing them when I come home makes me happy, so they stay. These were a lot of fun to make, and I’m still thinking about whipping a few up as gifts.

Be sure to check out seven more great DIY projects on today’s link-up at Kim’s!

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For the past several Christmases, my dad’s parents have said they only want one thing for Christmas: nice cards from their kids and grandkids. And usually we get them for them, but not always. But this Christmas, my mom rounded up my brother, three cousins and I, and had us create a book for them.

Opening Their Present

I created the book using Shutterfly, but each grandchild had their own page where we wrote how much we loved MeMe and PopPop, what we love doing with them, just whatever we feel about them, as well as photos of each of us with them. We also had group pages for things we all regularly did together, with blurbs my mom wrote.

Loving the letters and pictures!

Needless to say, they loved it. Once my grandmother figured out what it was, she got out cards from previous years she kept, which prompted near tears for her and my mother.

MeMe and PopPop with their grandchildren, before their youngest was born.

And really, check out an excerpt from the note my cousin wrote, and tell me YOU wouldn’t be in near tears: “The fact that y’all were always at my sporting events and were always there cheering me on has meant more to me than you’ll ever know. Also thank you so much for raising my dad into the great man that he is today. I love my father and i admire him more than anybody else on the planet so thank you for being such great parents too. Thank for loving my mother and excepting her into your family and allowing her to become the beautiful woman she has become. I am thankful for the influence that you have had in all of our lives and I wish I could express on paper how much y’all have meant to me.” It was longer, but this is the part that really gets me.

PopPop and me

Thankfully, my aunt and uncle, brother and I all have our own copies, so I can read this over and over.

I just need to brag on my Hubs for a minute.

Just before Christmas, I met up with a friend and her two kids at a local hotel to look at their decorated Christmas trees. While there, I noticed our local Civic Center had decorated one to promote Cirque du Soleil, which would be preforming right after my birthday.

I came home and told Hubby that was all I wanted for my birthday. I showed him where to order to the tickets, showed him a clip of the show, and reminded him that this was the present for my birthday.

Two days later, I opened my Christmas presents. Check them out:

See it in front of my new Beautiful America calendar? Those would be my tickets to Cirque du Soleil. The tickets that Hubby bought at wrapped weeks before I even knew the show was coming to our area.

Oh he is good y’all.

Merry Christmas from all of us at Longbrake Living! We hope you’re enjoying the day with your family (Colton wishes you lots of wrapping paper to play with). We’ll be gone for a bit, enjoying time with friends and family, but we’ll be back soon. And now, off to kick off this time with a game of Lego Creationary!

I ordered our Christmas cards! After spending a good bit of time with Hubby looking over all of Shutterfly’s options, picking our favorites, we went with…

….something completely different!

We ending up choosing the Confetti Flowers card (don’t tell the Hubs it’s called that!).

I really did like our other options, but when we finally got a picture we both loved, it didn’t quite work with our favorites. I tried it with Hubby’s favorite card, but it didn’t quite work, and Hubby said he didn’t care for the photo in black and white. So we called an audible and went with a card that worked with our favorite picture, one that looks something like this:

(Not our card picture, but close)

I can’t wait for my cards to come! I recently ordered and received a photo book from Shutterfly, and am very impressed with the quality, so I’m incredibly excited to see these. Thanks Shutterfly, for enabling me to send Christmas cards I love, not just Christmas cards I can afford, this year!

Last year, we didn’t send a Christmas card. I was pregnant, tired, and just not motivated to wrestle the dog and stage 100 pictures to get a good shot.

But this year, I have a baby. When you have a baby, everyone wants to see new pictures of said baby. So you better believe I’ll be sending Christmas cards this year!

I’ve heard a lot lately about Shutterfly’s holiday cards, mostly on other blogs (because of their blogging promotion), and decided to check them out. The year I got everything together enough to send a card, I created it myself, but I honestly like the designs on Shutterfly more than mine.

Hubby and I went through and looked at all of the options last night, and we found several we both liked.

This one was Hubby’s favorite: simple, but with a little pizazz.

And we were both incredibly charmed by this monogrammed design. Even though I would normally skip this one because of the odd size for mailing and increased postage rate, I really might go for this one. Wouldn’t he be adorable on this card?

Shutterfly also has a reasonable selection of religious cards.

But this sweet card was my favorite.

This was another card we both loved, simple and classic.

I also really liked several of their folded cards, but Hubby wasn’t a huge fan of the designs I liked (I think they were too girly). But, since many of them have a place for pictures on the outside and inside, I thought it would be fun to have an “outtake” photo on the inside. You know, to show off classics like this:

I’m very excited about sending Christmas cards this year – hopefully Colton will cooperate and let us take a fabulous picture for our card!

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Want to get in on the fun? Bloggers get 50 free holiday cards from Shutterfly, follow the arrow à  http://bit.ly/sfly2010

 

Now that Christmas is over, do you have a bunch of Christmas cards you want to keep but don’t know what to do with? Don’t toss ’em — re-purpose them into next year’s Christmas decorations! Last year we didn’t have a lot of Christmas ornaments and we didn’t want to spent a lot of money to deck our tree, so I made some using wedding cards. First, I found cards that only had writing on one side.

dsc03482I detached the front side, the one with no writing and the image on it, and checked out what parts of the card design I liked best. With this card, that was pretty easy because the pattern was consistent all-over. With other cards, pick whatever part you like best! If you’re using a photo card, you’ll probably want to include the faces of your loved ones!

dsc034831Now’s the time to get out your trusty holiday cookie cutters! Lay them over the part of the pattern you like best, then trace around the outside of the cookie cutter. One card I used last year had a pink sequin on it, and I used that with a reindeer cookie cutter to create Rudolph! Be creative in using your cookie cutters and the pattern of your card!

dsc03484Once you’ve cut out your shapes (be sure to cut inside the lines you traced) you can use a hot glue gun or craft clue to attach ribbon to hang your creations as ornaments, prop them up in garland, or anything else you can think of! Your holiday guests will be especially pleased to see that you liked their card enough to use it as part of your holiday decor, and you’ll be reminded of them every time you check out your tree.

dsc03404Hand-made ornaments definitely work for me! For more tips and tricks, check out Rocks in my Dryer!

I had a WONDERFUL time visiting with my family this Christmas. We actually had a pretty low-key time — mostly we ate, slept and sat around. I received some really wonderful things as well! Hubby got me The Dark Knight and a food processor (among other things — including our soon-to-arrive COUCH!).

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My parents gave me two new china place-settings, a decorative pillow, 3-way vacuum, and my mom made me a needle-pointed door hanger that says, “Quiet, please, novel in progress.”

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My in-laws got me an “first Christmas in our new home” ornament, a Crate and Barrel Christmas pillow and a brown throw blanket.

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My grandparents got Hubby and me a massager you attach to a chair (it looks something like the above picture, but not quite). My grandmother also gave me a wonderful Christmas gift — she invited me to go through some of her Christmas decorations and see what I’d like. She’d down-sizing her decorations and as the only grandchild who’s out of college and owns a home to decorate, I got first pick! I got three Christmas pillows, a silver nativity set, LOTS of ornaments, 5 glass trees, and a wreath. My favorite thing I got though, was a set of 6 carolers, 3 girls and 3 boys, my grandmother purchased over 57 years ago as a splurge for her and my grandfather’s first Christmas together.

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I gave Hubby a 6 gallon Shop-Vac, which he declared to be his favorite Christmas present, but I think he was just being nice. His parents gave him a HUGE tool chest for his shop, and I know he’s looking forward to organizing down there during his time off for New Years. Frankly, I’m looking forward to him sucking up all the sawdust that’s down there, so maybe it was a little bit of a gift to myself!

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Merry Christmas from Longbrake Living!

I’ll be gone for about a week, as Hubby and I travel three states away to visit my family. Christmas is really the only time I get down to my parent’s neck of the woods, so I’m really looking forward to having nearly a week to spend with them, and my not-so-little, little brother. See you in a week!

dsc03428Welcome to our home! Since this is only my second blog post here, this will be your first tour of my home! Good thing I have everything cleaned and decorated for Christmas. Come on in, take your shoes off, grab a cookie, and make yourself at home!

When you get to our front door, you’ll notice our lovely door-decor. I’m really a wreath person, but my mom gave me this last year, and hey, I don’t have to spend money on a wreath!

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Then, you’ll notice my collection of nutcrackers and our Christmas card display. I have quite a collection of nutcrackers and Nutcracker-themed items. Growing up, I danced and was in a production of the Nutcracker every winter. This was a great theme for my grandparents to run with in my Christmas gifts for years!

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When you walk in our house, you walk into the main living room, which houses our Christmas tree and stockings. Yay! My grandmother knitted stockings for all four of her children, their spouses, and then for her grandchildren. She passed away two weeks ago before Hubby and I were engaged, and I really wanted him to have a stocking that matched mine, kind of “in honor” of my grandmother. My mom found a lady who used mine as a pattern and made one for him as well.

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I have a few other decorations in this room, including a white ceramic natvity set, some Scottish Santas (gifted to me by my grandparents after my trip to Scotland) and my angel nativity.

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Some of my favorite decorating was done in my dining room for an early Christmas with Hubby’s family. I used a silver bowl, oranges, some place-mats and napkins my mom made and nutcracker placecard holders. Simple, but welcoming and festive I think!

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Those aren’t all my decorations, I have a small tree, some carolers, and some small nutcrackers in our family room, but these are the highlights. Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to come back soon!

Also, be sure to check back at Boo Mama for some more great holiday decorating!

Noel y’all!

Just a 20-something girl living on the East Coast, trying to figure out life. I'm a wife and mom to two. I'm trying to rediscover my love for long walks, yoga and pilates. But not hiking. I still don't like hills. I was raised at the beach, but I don't like the beach. I like to look at it, but I don't like to swim in it, I'd prefer a pool, thanks. I'm just trying to become the best person I can be -- the woman God wants me to be. That's easier said than done!

E-mail Me!

Contact me at longbrakeliving@gmail.com - I'd love to hear from you!

Hubby is my all-time favorite guy. A perfect mix of serious, sarcastic, laid-back, handy and nerdy, he is the perfect complement to me. I love his strong work-ethic and the way he always loves and supports me through everything. Some of Hubby's favorite things include: hiking, Virginia Tech football, woodworking, and his family. When I married him in July 2007, I had no idea what an amazing journey we were headed on, and how I could come to love him so much more each day.

Our oldest, Colton, is three years old. He is equal parts sassy and hysterical. He loves all things train, car, bus, truck, and machine related. He has a penchant for made-up words and loves to be the clown of his pre-school class. Our younger son, Nathan, was born this May. He is pure joy and full of smiles! He is such a blessing and a perfect fit for our family.