Once November hits my nostalgia kicks into overdrive for sure – particularly when I get my Christmas decorations out. Each year my grandfather would set up the most amazing Christmas Village in his front room – he would build hills of fake snow, make an ice skating rink out of aluminum foil, add battery operated lights to the house…it was amazing! When he passed really the only thing that I could think about wanting to remember him by was some of the pieces of that village for my own home. At the time I wanted them to keep those memories alive in myself, but now they’ve become a really important way for me to keep those memories alive in my boys because now every time that I get the chance to set up my tiny village I can tell them not only about that magnificent scene but the magnificent person who put it together each year.
I hope when they grow up they share not only the memories of my grandfather’s village with their own loved ones, but also maybe of their over the top mom who loved to deck the house out from top to bottom for the holidays and kept the Hallmark Channel on 24/7. Maybe of the annual trips we took to Hershey just the three of us. Maybe of our traditional Xmas eve dinner of Beef Wellington or the after-dinner walks we take to see the lights on our neighbor’s houses. Because as much as I do all of that to keep the happiness I get from the holiday season alive in myself, deep down it because I hope for that same spark to live on in my kids in whatever way feels truest for them. I don’t need them to copy and paste the traditions that I’ve made for us to pass that happiness along – if I’m doing it right the happiness will show in the stories that they tell and the traditions that they make for themselves along the way.
Rethink your Closets
My current mission with my builder grade home – which started when I embarked on my epic closet makeover – is to re-design all the storage to fit our needs. Sometimes starting with a blank slate can be intimidating, but when it comes to storage I think there’s nothing better than a blank slate to maximize your homes potential. Whether it be turning an underused coat closet into additional pantry space, customizing your linen closet so that every sheet set has a specific spot, or DIYing a dresser into your kids closet because they don’t need a ton of hanging space – when you think beyond the annoying wire shelves that come standard the possibilities really are endless. My one piece of advice – DON’T jump right into this project when you move it. Wait to see how you live in your house for a bit first to really get a feel for what you need and what kind of storage your home is lacking before you do any permanent changes.
As much as I love adding artwork to every blank spot I can get my hands on, I do think that the power of mirrors as art pieces shouldn’t be undervalued. Besides being super functional they are also an important tool to keep in your design bag to add brightness (try adding one to reflect natural light in dark room), depth (try adding one to a tight foyer to make it feel more spacious), or height (try adding a floor to ceiling one in your bedroom). And I will never stop encouraging people to swap out that giant piece of glass in their bathrooms for something (anything!) else. It really will do wonders…..
One of the meals we all look forward to each year is our Christmas Eve dinner which we enjoy just the four of us at our dining room table. Unlike my Turkey Day menu I wouldn’t call this stress-free – instead it falls more in the “I like to challenge my culinary skills every now and then” category:
- Individual Beef Wellingtons
- Peppercorn Sauce
- Tyler Florence’s Creamed Spinach
- Horseradish Potato Gratin
- For dessert we pick a different Cake Roll each year – one of my favorites was this Hot Cocoa version. This year I’m thinking of changing things up and trying something like this Peppermint Chocolate Pie recipe.
Fair Play: How Sports Shape the Gender Debates by Katie Barnes
“A richly reported and provocative look at the history of women’s sports and the controversy surrounding trans athletes by a leading LGBTQ+ sports journalist.For decades women have been playing competitive sports thanks in large part to the protective cover of Title IX. Since passage of that law, the number of women participating in sports and the level of competition in high school, college, and professionally, has risen dramatically. In Fair Play, award-winning journalist Katie Barnes traces the evolution of women’s sports as a pastime and a political arena, where equality and fairness have been fought over for generations.” Cannot highly recommend this book more to anyone who is interest more in learning more about the history of the role gender has played in sports in the US, the beginnings of Title 9 and the challenges still facing woman in sports, and the way the current political climate affects both trans and cis athletes today.
DIY Felt Tree Skirt
Here’s a SUPER easy way to give your tree some personality:
- Get a cheap white felt or fabric tree skirt or tree collar
- Pick a color scheme that matches the ornaments on your tree and cut out tiny squares of felt to match
- Attach alternating rows of your felt squares with hot glue evenly spaced around your tree skirt