December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas, everyone!!!  It's been a hectic holiday season, but I hope you know that my friends and family are always on my heart and in my mind.  Just because I didn't send traditional Christmas cards this year, doesn't mean I'm not thinking of you!  

While the recession has hit closer to home this year, I'm confident there's a bright future in store for 2010 and have much to be thankful for this year:
  • I've enjoyed quite a few trips to Indiana and Ohio to celebrate holidays, birthdays and my parent's 30th wedding anniversary.  (We pulled off a surprise - and for that I'm so proud!!!)  
  • I left the West Loop and my roommate Jaci to venture out to Ukrainian Village, a neighborhood west of downtown.  In addition to an unobstructed view of the Chicago skyline from the shared rooftop and four times the space I had the last time I lived alone, I'm just one bus away from the office, which is about 2 miles to the east.   This place feels like home, and if you follow this blog much, you know I've always got a home decorating project in process to make this vintage apartment be a true reflection of me! 
  • I'm also much closer to Covenant Presbyterian Church, which I joined this spring.   It's a PCA church with a smaller, but young, vibrant church family  and I've met a lot of great friends there over the past year and have enjoyed getting together weekly with my small group.  
  • I survived - and really enjoyed helping to plan - my first high school reunion.  I still can't believe it's been 10 years!!!  
  • As you'll see from my blog, I'm still enjoying photography and sewing, and do both whenever I get the chance!
  • And while I may not have found "the one" yet, I'm constantly surrounded by the best friends and family a girl could ask for. 
Well, that's an update from Chicago (via Indiana).  I hope you're all having a wonderful Christmas!  I hope to hear from you soon and now that I have a guest room, you're welcome to come for a visit any time!!!!  

I've selected a few highlights of the past year in photos - please view the electronic holiday card below and enjoy! 

Love,

Emily 
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December 18, 2009

'Twas the night before this girl left for Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was sleeping, not even a mouse.  (Oh heavenly Father, may there not really be a mouse....)  

The Christmas movies were on and the sewing machine, too.  Mamaw and Papaw's gifts needed to be constructed from scratch, oh gosh how did it get to midnight?  Boo!  

First up, Mamaw, the hand-quilter extraordinaire!  

I used Heather Bailey's pattern and set to work with just a few minor adjustments to her directions.  (I attached the interfacing before cutting out the pieces - seemed like a time-saving idea to me!)

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Each piece was sewn together with care, in hopes that the sewing machine would be fair!  

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Oh wait, oh no!  What did I forget?  Stuffing I thought.  "Oh crap!" was said.  Where can I find stuffing - oh yes, oh yes!  No worries, Cookie, we'll put ya back together in a jiffy. 

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After hand-sewing and stuffing, this present is a wrap.  I think it's time for a nap.  

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There's no rest for the weary, Papaw is next.  A gift from the heart, that's what grandpas love best.  The idea for this gift came from Tuesday's small group you see, my leader mentioned a hymn that I couldn't shake any better than a bee.  

"Love Came Down at Christmas" has meant so much to me this year.  I'm really done with the poem stuff, so here it goes.  I wanted to use my craftiness to illustrate the hymn.  So I pulled together Christmas scraps and found a heart pattern to match.  

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Some cutting and sewing and stitching later, and it was evident that it really would make a heart!

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Thanks to a Macy's sale on Thursday, this Martha Stewart frame was a steal, so I put the lyrics with a message right into the deal.  I hope he loves it because I sure do!  

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Now it's time to finish packing, then this elf is off to bed!  

December 16, 2009

Milly the Fourth Wise Man

When she's not planning an assassination plot against Mrs. Claus, Milly can be quite the angel!  She loves to sit on top of my radiator cover in the front of the house when she stays with me.  She keeps tabs on the street below and growls at litter and passersby.  I forgot to move my nativity, but she didn't mind.  In fact, I think she's doing a great job playing the part of the fourth wise man.... or maybe another animal onlooker paying respects to the Baby Jesus?  I'm not sure, but it was cute.  

Milly the Fourth Wise Man

December 8, 2009

Big News!!!!

It's my favorite day of the whole year!!! OK, ok, maybe my second-most favorite. But it's still an awesome day. Today Pantone announced their color of the year!!! What an awesome day for home design. I'm always curious to know what the experts think will be tops, and look back on the previous year to see if the last prediction was reflected in our tastes, preferences and ultimately our homes.

Drum roll please! The Color of the Year for 2010 is..... turquoise!

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They describe the color as inviting and luminous. Can't say I've ever used a lot of the hue, but I am fond of it. I think for a brief time in the early 90's I claimed it was my favorite color. (I had not yet discovered my affinity for white.) You can read more about it here. You can also see how excited other bloggers, specifically House of Turquoise, are here!

December 7, 2009

'Tis the Season

The View

It's that time of year, ya know, the BEST time of year for home decorating!!  I've accumulated quite the collection of ornaments, nativities, Santas and such.  Now that I have room for everything and then some, I'm yearning for a new tree.  Wouldn't an 8 footer look smashing in the living room?  I digress.  

I wanted to share a few of my favorite tricks of the trade.  Besides having a mom that loves to gift decorations every year, I have a few other tricks up my Santa suit to make a lot of bang for not much buck.  

1.  Wrapping paper and ribbon can make any year-round item a holiday decoration!  

Wall Presents
Exhibit A:  Inexpensive art canvases I purchased earlier this fall

Wrapping Paper Tray
Exhibit B: Serving tray 

2.  Ornaments in pretty bowls are classy, simple and spread a budget far, although I'd spring for the shatterproof ones next time!  

TV Cabinet

Even in the Kitchen!

Dining Room

3.  Have fun!  Not everything has to match.  This year I found a place for all those old decorations that remind me of special people and memories - and I think the result is eclectic, fun and homey.  

Console

Built-in Unit

Christmas Tree in the Morning

Nativity

December 6, 2009

Zoo Lights!

This year I not only made it to ZooLights at the Lincoln Park Zoo once, but twice!  I went with my mom and Amy last Sunday, and this Saturday with my best friend and her little sister.  I had a great time both trips - a few animals, lots of Christmas lights and fun all around.  

As much as I tried, I don't think I got a winning shot for their photo competition, but these are my favorite shots:   

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December 3, 2009

Christmas Time!!!

I broke my cardinal rule.  I'm still on my laptop past 11 p.m.  I owe photos of the Christmas decor, but alas, I didn't get around to it before the Christmas tree timer turned itself off an hour and a half ago.  I've been busy.  But, one of my favorite bloggers, It's Almost Naptime, invited her readers to fill out this little Christmas-themed get-to-know-you-survey, and what's better to do at 11:30 at night on a Thursday than a survey?  I just don't know.  

Here goes!  

1.  Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?  Hot chocolate.  White hot chocolate.  Citrus-infused white hot chocolate..... with Grand Marnier.  Better than 99.9 percent of beverages on the planet.  

2.  Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?  Oh, Santa wraps.  Santa wakes up at the crack of dawn the day after Christmas every year to knock over old ladies at the local Hallmark to get the good paper with the grid on the backside 60 percent off.  Bows too.  Santa loves some bow action.  

3.  Colored lights on tree/house or white?  White lights all the way.  It's my favorite color, so this shouldn't even be a question.  

4.  Do you hang mistletoe?  Well, are you bringing eligible bachelors to my house to make it worth tracking down live mistletoe in downtown Chicago?  If so, I'm on it.  If not, why bother?  

5.  When do you put your decorations up?  Traditionally the tree gets set up before I head to Indiana for Thanksgiving.  The decorations and ornaments go up the night I get back.  This year I got busy early.  I couldn't help myself.  Christmas cheer was just what the doctor ordered.  

6.  What is your favorite holiday dish?  Mrs. Flint's Christmas cookies.  My mouth waters just thinking of them, and Mom #2, don't you forget you promised me that if I walked down the aisle you'd fork over that recipe.  

7.  Favorite holiday memory as a child?  Christmas Eve's were always special for my brother and me.  Our church does a beautiful midnight service, and the children's choir used to sing Silent Night a capella (in German, then English) as a totally dark church lit up one by one in candlelight from the single flame created by the birth of Jesus leading up to the organ and the entire church filled with people busting into Joy to the World with candles in hand.  Beautiful moments in my polyester choir robe, let me tell you.  

8.  When did you learn the truth about Santa?  I don't really remember.  I don't think I was all that surprised.  I had my suspicions.  I'm pretty sure I faked it for a few years to ensure Santa still brought presents and to not let down my big brother.  Poor guy tried really hard to keep me believing.  I think he was worried about present intake, too.  

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?  Per #7, Christmas Eve was special for us because we got to celebrate it at home.  Christmas and all major holidays were spent at the car obeying grandparental wishes.  Christmas Eve was OURS!  At our house we would eat a nice dinner just the four or us, watch "Christmas Vacation" and my brother and I would open up our gifts from each other before heading off to church.  Now we do everything but the presents.  Good times!  

10.  How do you decorate your Christmas tree?  I like to set up the tree and put the lights on one day, then go back for the fun stuff later.  I have a ton of ornaments and pile them on and finish with my Martha Stewart garland I bought five years ago by undressing the model tree at K-mart.  I love that garland.  I wasn't leaving without it.  

11. Snow!  Love it or dread it?  LOVE IT!  I don't have a car, I rarely drive, and I live in Chicago.  Girl's got quite the winter wardrobe.  Let it snow, baby!!!!

12.  Can you ice skate?  Why yes, I can.  The Miami University hockey team was cute, therefore I had motivation to get to the closest ice rink growing up.  

13.  Do you remember your favorite gift?  My dad bought me a Minnie Mouse watch when I was in elementary school.  It wasn't something I really remember wanting, but my mom told me he picked it out himself.  The fact that my dad actually went into a retail store between Thanksgiving and Christmas to purchase something?  Priceless.  I'm such a daddy's girl. 

14.  What's the most important thing about the holidays for you?  It's a time when people are nice to each other and are cheery.  I love it.  I don't know if it's the last minute worries about Santa's naughty list or people genuinely bursting with joy over the birth of Jesus, but again, I have my suspicions.  

15.  What is your favorite holiday dessert? Mrs. Flint's Christmas cookies.  Duh.  

16.  What's your favorite holiday tradition?  There are a lot of new traditions for me - Black Friday shopping with mom, Butch McGuire's tacky Christmas beers, ZooLights, but every single year, no matter what, I see the Joffrey's Nutcracker ballet.  In fact I went alone last year, and I'll do it again!  It's not Christmas without the Nutcracker.  

17.  What tops your tree?  A big fat bow I made myself.  Someday I'll get around to making an angel, but until then, it's a bow.  

18.  Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?  Love giving, hate financing the giving.  Love giving.  Receiving is good too.  I'm not going to lie.  But I love giving a good, thoughtful gift - frustrating when I can't think of the right thing, but when you get it right - nothing better!!  

19.  What is your favorite Christmas song?  "O Holy Night" has always been a favorite, but there are too many for words.  I love 'em all.  The Christmas iPod playlist is in full effect.   

20.  Candy canes:  yuck or yum?  Yuck.  I don't care for peppermint.  

21.  Favorite Christmas show?  Tough one!  The Charlie Brown Christmas special probably tops the list, next to "Christmas Vacation." 

22.  Saddest Christmas Song?  "Nuttin for Christmas."  I'm kidding.  Sad Christmas song?  Sentimental teary-eyed songs, sure, but nothing sad.  I'm getting tired now.  Time for bed!!

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