This New Year’s Eve

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Listening to….the beautiful sounds of morning silence. All the other inhabitants of Windy Poplars are still asleep!

Loving…that today is another holiday! ๐Ÿ™‚

Thinking…about all I need to catch up on after so much celebration (i.e. what piles up after ignoring laundry, bills, cleaning, etc. for an entire week)

Wanting…to spend the entire day blogging! (In my dreams…)

Grateful for…so, so much! Always topping the list is my sweet husband, and the life we share together. โ™ฅ

Wearing…a big white fluffy robe, and my p.j.s

Planning…to create and sell an all-new Valentine Kit this year! Stay tuned…they’ll be available in the next couple of weeks!

Needing…to exercise

Excited about…brunch with friends tomorrow ๐Ÿ™‚

Learning…that we cannot change other people. The sooner we accept them as they are, the better our relationships and expectations will be.

How are you this New Year’s Eve?

It’s the Holiday Season… (our December in review)

Why hello! After a solid week of merry-making, we are finally coming up for air, and attempting to get back into an everyday-life sort of routine (wish us luck)!

In case you didn’t know, my husband and I are celebrators. We love any old excuse for a party, a day off, a vacation, getting together with friends… We celebrate seemingly arbitrary things like St. Patty’s Day, movie releases, the first day of fall, you get the picture.~

So as you might imagine, in our world, December is one big month of celebration! We kick things off with my birthday, and don’t stop until after the New Year has been rung in. We clear our calender of everything we can that is not holiday related, and carefully choose the festivities in which to partake. Christmastime can easily become overwhelmingly exhausting, or at best, a blur, so we are mindful of keeping things low key, being willing to say “no” when we need to, and scheduling plenty of at-home nights to reconnect, relax, watch Christmas movies, and drink eggnog. We try to have all of our shopping done before December even begins. Doesn’t always happen, but that’s our goal. To ease the potential financial burden of the month, we stock the freezer with healthful food throughout the fall, and stick to Christmas concerts and events that are free.

This year, our December included so many wonderful things! I wasn’t great about taking photos (too busy having fun!), and even those I did take aren’t much to write home about (because I’m still getting used to my new camera), but nevertheless, here is a pictorial glimpse into our holiday season.

This December We:

Drank some holiday tea at a proper English Tearoom

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Celebrated Hanukkah with friends who are Jewish-Christians

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Chopped down our Christmas tree

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Enjoyed the Grand Christmas Buffet Brunch at the Hotel Roanoke (such a fun tradition!)

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Started my family Christmas celebration at White Oak

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Made gingerbread men

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Cheers-ed

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Laughed

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And laughed some more

Sat still in the glow of twinkle lights and reflected on the true meaning of Christmas

IMG_50921Ate cute ‘lil reindeer

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Were full of wonder

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Opened stockings

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Read stories

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Spent Christmas at a gorgeous old hotel

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And so, so many other things that I didn’t take photos of: Handel’s Messiah, a wonderful College Choir’s Christmas concert in a beautiful cathedral, a Christmas scavenger hunt at the mall, St. Lucia Festival, secret-santa-ing, holiday dinners and coffee dates with friends…it was a beautiful season that we soaked up every drop of peace and joy we could in. Until next year December…until next year…

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I hope your Christmas season was merry and bright!

Summer-Winter Wardrobing

I don’t know why it’s never occurred to me before, I’ve seen other people do it… Maybe I thought it was boring to not have two completely separate wardrobes for warm and cool weather? Maybe I thought you should only wear wool skirts in winter? Well, regardless of why I’ve fought the notion, I now think it’s genius! Especially since I’ve been on a mission to simplify my closet (perhaps we’ll talk more about that in January?).

So what’s the big deal, you ask? Only this: taking your summer dresses, and “winterizing” them with some simple accessories: tights, a sweater, a scarf, winter shoes/boots, etc. to make them more appropriate for chilly winter days. How have I not tried this before?

I’ve had so much fun playing around with the whole multi-seasonal outfit alteration idea lately, and I’m seeing my sundresses in a brand new light! Thought I’d share a recent outfit with you today:

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So what about you? Do you wear the same dresses all year round with different seasonal touches, or do you have separate summer and winter wardrobes?ย 

Home Tour – Master Bedroom

We’re at the next stop on the Home Tour today folks! It’s time to visit our Master Bedroom. One of the few rooms in the house that I had a very clear ending vision for when we started the renovation process, it was also one of the last rooms that we tackled! The main doozy here was the ceiling. When our home was “set”, the people who came in and touched up things that were damaged in the moving process (our home is a modular home) did a pretty rotten job on our bedroom ceiling. The one room in the whole house where we actually spend time staring at the ceiling everyday. Figures! Anyway, we have always wanted this ceiling re-done, but have never worked up the unction to do it. Once the room was already a disaster via other renos, it was a little easier to want to tackle it though! It took my sweet, patient husband 4 solid days of spraying, and scraping, and spackling, and mudding… Talk about a crick in your neck… But the end result was sooooo worth it. I love our old world style plaster ceiling!

But onto some photographs that are infinitely more interesting than a ceiling:

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The inspiration for this room? The color (a warm gray) with glossy white dentil crown molding, English hunt theme, large iron lantern/chandelier, patterned carpet, mix of black and antique wood furniture, and (still a dream) worn, tufted leather settee idea for the foot of the bed, all came from Keswick Hall. Shocking, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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One of the practical projects some friends helped us with, was cutting open our walk-in closet to make it more of an alcove. It used to have a small hinged door that was difficult to get through with, say, a basket load of laundry, or boxes from the attic (our attic access is IN the closet). It is so wonderfully convenient now!

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You can read more about our mantel bed HERE and HERE, if you so desire. These pictures were taken when my fall decor was still up, now the bed has a cozy nubbly gray plaid throw on the end of the bed in place of the paisley- with matching pillows of course, and cranberry euro shams for Christmas.

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A snoozing kitty cat bumps up the coze factor, no?:

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This is the dresser directly across from the bed:

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Oh, and I have to give some props to the wonders of MOLDING! This room gained some serious substance, age, and classic-ness (just made that word up) simply by adding some real-deal molding to the space. Crown, chair, and window topper were all new. And we upgraded (in size) the door and baseboard moldings. What a difference that made! Here’s a little molding montage for you:

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And we can’t forget our flooring – I knew I wanted gray patterned carpet with a super squishy carpet pad – we found this one as a remnant, and had it bound ourselves (that is totally the cost-effective way to go people!). The “wood” is actually laminate from Sams Club. Who’da thunk, right?! Didn’t even know Sams Club sold flooring. But I saw it in someones whole house once, and just fell in love! You can’t beat the price, quality (padding is attached-score!), and hand scraped look. Never thought I’d like such a reddish wood, but I think it warms up the gray rug and walls even more.:

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This is the view into our Master Bath (which you toured HERE):

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And the view to the deck right off our room via double glass doors:

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ย Welp, that’s all for today! Thanks so much for joining me :-).

If you’ve missed previous stops on the tour:
Kitchen
Den
Master Bath
Guest Room

Mamacita’s Chicken Soup – It’s Good For What Ails You!

‘Tis the season to be…well…ill. Along with the cozy change of weather comes an army of viruses, flus, allergies, and even just your run-of-the-mill common winter cold, all ready to hold you down for the count. – Add in an elevated schedule/stress level, more naughty eating, less sleep (all of which equal a compromised immune system), and you’ve got the recipe to be under the weather at least once this season!

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Oh, and can I add in one quick soapbox rant/pet-peeve/PSA before I share my recipe?? Most of these illnesses we catch from each other. So please, for the love-of-all-that’s-Holy stay. home. when you are sick! And when you have illness in the house, even if you aren’t yet “sick”, you may be carrying the germs and be at the most contagious stage of the illness (right before you come down with symptoms). Just wait out the incubation period before you and the rest of your family are out socializing this season, and you’ll play a huge part in stopping the illness epidemic. Usually after a few days of having a cold, you’re not nearly as liable to spread it…

*steps off soapbox*

Ok, so once you do have the misfortune of getting sick, what’s a girl to do? Why, eat chicken soup of course!!! This is as close to my mom’s (unwritten) recipe as I can get. Hers is still infinitely better of course. ๐Ÿ™‚ Iย  have slurped it up my whole life when the sickies came calling, and by golly, it really does make you feel better!

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Mamacita’s Chicken Soup

4-6 boneless/skinless chicken thighs
1 carton of chicken broth (reduced sodium)
1 large sweet onion, chopped
3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ cubes
2 cans of tomato sauce (8oz. each)
2 t garlic powder
6 oz. spaghetti
salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken thighs in a medium sized (4qt.) saucepan. Add the chicken broth, and enough water to fill the saucepan 2/3 of the way full. Add in the chopped onion, tomato sauce, and garlic, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until the chicken is fully cooked (20 min.?). Add potatoes, and simmer until they are soft (another 20 min.?). Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, break spaghetti into two or three sections, and cook according to package directions. Once noodles are done, drain, and add them to the rest of the soup. Break up the chicken into bite sized chunks if necessary, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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As always, for a printable version, click HERE.

Holiday Guide – How to Have a Healthy Holiday

If your season is anything like ours, your calender is filled with a string of wonderful celebrations – all punctuated with a delicious meal, reception, party, or cookie exchange – am I right?! There’s a reason why “Go on a diet” tops the charts for New Year’s Resolutions… because we all allow ourselves a month or two of utter indulgence in the name of Christmas tradition.

Now, I’m not here to ba-humbug the whole eat, drink, and be merry bit – only to offer a few suggestions for how we can keep ourselves a little more balanced in the realm of what we consume during this holiday season.

Beyond the obvious side-effect of weight gain, there are other reasons for why we should be mindful of what we’re putting into our bodies this time of year. Here are just a few:

+ ‘Tis the season for air born illness – and our best defense, is a strong and healthy immune system. How do we bolster those immune systems? Nutrition.
+ Our schedules are more full than usual this time of year, and so we need to be functioning at optimum energy levels to meet the challenge – good sleep, and lots of healthy vitamins and minerals aid in how much energy we have each day.
+ Flare-ups of food allergies/diabetes/hypoglycemia/etc. can cause you to miss out on the festive celebrations! It’s worth taking extra precautions to keep your food-related condition in good order.

So HOW is it even possible to show restraint? My personal motto is “everything in moderation”. I’ll never deny myself a piece of delicious looking cheesecake at a Christmas party…I’ll simply take a very small piece. A craving is truly satisfied by just a taste.

Drink a lot of water! Not only will it help keep your skin, nails, and hair hydrated during this very drying season, it will also help you feel full. Sure, enjoy a cup of decadent eggnog punch, but then switch to good old H20 for the refills.

Eat before you go. If you know full well that you are headed to a party filled with pigs in a blanket and cheese fondue, have a salad before you leave the house. Not only will the fiber help your body process all the processed foods, but you won’t be nearly as tempted to fill your plate to overflowing as you would have been on an empty stomach.

When you are attending a potluck, bring something healthy! A veggie plate, or hummus and pitas…guarantee that there will be something delicious and nutritious at the party by bringing it yourself!

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When you are eating in, feed yourself well. Plan some light, vegetable-laden meals for your dinners. Have healthy snacks at the ready! This time of the year, clementines are in all their glory – so keep a bowl of them out on the kitchen counter for anyone to snag when the munchies hit. Or perhaps a candy dish filled with nuts? Or bags with baby carrots in the fridge for a grab-and-go snack. Greek yogurt is also very filling, delicious, and full of protein. – They key to choosing healthy snacks is having them in view, and easily accessible.

May your days be merry, healthy, and bright!

Got more healthy livings tips to share with us? Please do so in the comments!