Sunday, December 31

HOLIDAYS | Simple Woods + Whites Christmas Decor


  
Merry Christmas + Happy New Year friends!!
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas season and are excited about the approaching new year!


Christmas this year was very different for us.
We are in our new home, two hours away from family and my two older girls...
so I had to let go of some old Christmas traditions and try to start some new ones.

With that said, the biggest change I made this year as far as Christmas goes is I kept things REALLY simple when it came to decor: woods, whites and a little bit of greenery.

I didn't even open my boxes of ornaments. 
Nope. I purchased new ones: raw woods hearts, snowflakes and stars I randomly came across the month before Christmas.

I hung them on the new faux, pre-lit tree we bought this year - forgoing our annual tradition of picking one out together at Santa's Christmas Tree Forest back home. 


Everything just felt so new and different. I believe I subconsciously could not bring myself to open the flood of memories contained in all of the boxes of Christmas decor and ornaments.

I bought a new tree skirt (never even had one - previously used blankets or fabric scraps) and new stockings. I knew out of all of my kids Ema would disapprove of me not sticking with the stockings she grew up with...and it was literally one of the first questions she asked when she walked in the house. 


I wanted the house to feel like Christmas but I didn't want it cluttered. And I also wanted it to be easy to put up and easy to take down. And again...I think I subconsciously avoided unsolicited emotions by dodging anything that could conjure up a memory...big or small.







We also started a new tradition...the 25 days of Christ.
I wanted the season to be as chaos-free and as Christ-centered as possible. 
The new daily ritual of reading a passage of scripture and having Ella hang the corresponding ornament from December 1st all the way up to Christmas Day really added a spiritual + sacred element to our Christmas season...one I had regretfully been looking past for far too long.



Even the cookies I made for our annual Christmas Cookie Baking Day matched my whole Christmas color scheme and vibe this year. I love them so much I may only use white royal icing from here on out. I LOVE the tone-on-tone.

The cookie baking was held at my mom's house this year instead of mine...even though when we bought the new house I immediately envisioned the new huge island covered in Christmas cookies. It's just too much to ask the rest of the family to travel so far...it was easier for Ella and I to go. 

Yep. We traveled the two hours and turned it into a 2 day visit. It was nice.
Although truth be told, Ella didn't even participate because she was spending time with her bestie Elise...whom she misses terribly. And I was sad Clara only got to pop in for an hour after she got off of work. Ema was there though...and she even inspired me with a few of her designs.


I just had to include this giant sugar cookie tree cut-out my aunt Susan created by hand. She thought it looked wonky but I fell in love with it's rustic, authentic vibe and asked her if I could decorate it. I love how it turned out. And see...I even added a few splashes of green in the mix of cookies - but I still love the tone-on-tone. *wink*


This year was the first year I realized after all of these years of having my own home and decorating for Christmas I have NEVER had mistletoe as part of our Christmas decor!!
I'd honestly never even thought about it.

I came home with some unexpectedly this year while Ella and I were out shopping together one afternoon. She spotted a package of it and asked if we could buy it. I may have done an eye roll and almost said no and then all of a sudden a rush of memories about how my grandparents always had it hanging at their front door during the holidays came flooding my mind...and heart. And of course we had to bring some home. I find it peculiar after all of these years I hadn't even given it a thought and now I can't imagine not having it in our home.







The Willow Tree créche I've had for years blended perfectly with my simple Christmas decor. 
I intentionally found a place where it could be the centerpiece/focal point of our home - a daily reminder to me of what to keep my focus on. 

Psst...
Do you like that fancy word "créche" I used? I recently learned it while reading a new Tasha Tudor book I purchased and it sounds so much more...well...fancy. *wink* "Créche" is just a word that also means nativity but apparently speaks more directly to the baby Jesus. You're welcome for that random information. *wink*









You know I love our Hot Cocoa Bars every year. This year's Snickerdoodle theme is one of my favorites. I love having it up during the holidays and beyond...warming our tummies and our hearts. 



I think that's a wrap friends!!
I hope you enjoyed a peek at what our Christmas looked like this year.
As different as it was due to our move six months ago and as hard as it was to let go of traditions I'd come to know and love through the years...I can truly say it was one of my favorite Christmases yet because it was one of the most simple.

I will be back soon with my recap of 2017 and the action word I've chosen to focus on for 2018!!
Also...I just had to share that tonight...New Year's Eve night...we are starting a new tradition!!

I've decided to have a candlelight dinner...using the battery operated flickering candlesticks we've had displayed in our windows this Christmas season. I think it's a brilliant way to transition from Christmas to New Year's. 

Love you guys so much. Thanks for being here.
Thanks for sharing. Thanks for supporting. 
Here's to a beautiful year ahead for us all!

xoxo,
Jess

KEEPiNG iT REAL
Stuart, our elf, was back again this year. I think Ella has a crush on him. *wink*
She said she'd like to marry him. lol
And she cried the day he left...she always cries when he leaves.
It rips my heart out - for a plethora of reasons.

Read more...

Thursday, December 21

RECIPE + GIFT IDEA | White Chocolate + Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies


Delicious + festive cookies with white chocolate + red cranberries!?
Can you think of a cookie more perfect for baking + gifting during the Christmas season?

I love these cookies.
They're quite delicious...the recipe is no-fuss AND they're pretty. Win!!

Here's the recipe if you decide you love these too + want to try them....



If you need gifting ideas...well here you go:
1. bake the cookies and package them up.
2. bake the cookies, package them up AND give them the recipe on a cute recipe card.
Oh wait! You don't have a cute recipe card?
Well Merry Christmas!!
I've taken care of that for you.
AND...you see those cute labels on the cookie tins? (white background + black background)?
Yep! I've got those for you to print too - if you want them + need them. (all links below)



WHITE CHOCOLATE + CRANBERRY OATMEAL COOKIE FREE PRINTABLES:

I hope you try them.
I hope you love them.
And I hope you'll let me know if you do.

Love you guys!
4 more sleeps until Christmas!!! Are you ready?

xoxo,
Jess

KEEPiNG iT REAL
I still have wrapping to do.
And you should see the state of our home right now. Eeks!
BUT...this is the most calm I've been through the holidays in a very long time.
And I'm liking it. A LOT!!!

Read more...

Tuesday, December 19

GIFT IDEA | Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa Gift Package



Good morning friends!!
Looking for a last minute cutesy, thoughtful gift?
Well...I figured out how to package up my Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa you guys!!
I packaged it up in a glass jar, added a bag of marshmallows and a tiny bottle of cinnamon sugar.

The lucky person on the receiving end of this gift will just need to add hot water + whipped cream!
And...there are enough servings to enjoy 4 mugs making it perfect for gifting it to a person or a small family. Yes!!


Plus, I created some super cute labels to make the package delightful + charming! 
Tip: I rounded my corners on my label using a corner rounding craft punch - like this one.


So...here's the recipe + the how-to on packaging it up.

Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa Mix - makes one gift package

1 cup of White Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix - use my homemade recipe or this one from Ghirardelli
2 heaping TBSP brown sugar
1 heaping tsp. ground cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together by hand or using a food processor.
Fill a 10oz. jar with your Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa Mix.
Fill a tiny jar with cinnamon sugar - use my perfect cinnamon sugar recipe
Bag up some marshmallows.
Print out your FREE Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa Mix Labels.
Secure to jars using double-stick tape.
Package in a cute basket or slip inside a clear cello bag and tie with a ribbon + cinnamon sticks.
(I put my marshmallows in a separate cello, tied them shut and then placed them on top of glass jar - see below. These hard bottomed cello bags are perfect for gifts like this).






I hope you LOVE and USE the idea!!
It's fun to put together - and it's sooooo cute.
Plus...it's soooo delicious.

xoxo,
Jess

SOURCES:
FREE Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa Mix packaging labels
10oz. glass jars - Hobby Lobby
mini jars with corks - Hobby Lobby
Cello bags with circle bottoms
White Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix - homemade recipe
White Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix - store bought

KEEPiNG iT REAL
Only 5 days until Christmas! Eeks!
I wasn't freaking out about it until today.
I've got presents to wrap and things to wrap up and yet I can't wrap my head around the fact Christmas is almost here. *wink*

Read more...

Monday, December 11

PRINT | Let Heaven + Nature Sing Art Print


Well happy Monday, friends!!
I'm popping in to share this "Let Heaven + Nature Sing" sign I created to update my "Give Thanks" sign I had in this frame.

Since my Christmas decor this year has consisted of a mix of raw woods, whites and a little greenery, this sign just felt SO right. It's "simple + sweet" too which as you know, is my ongoing vibe and theme this Christmas season and this past year.



If you love it, I've created two sizes for you to download, print + frame.
Gift it. Frame it. Use it at your table settings...whatever your heart desires!!


Enjoy!!
Love you guys!!

xoxo,
Jess

KEEPiNG iT REAL
We have officially run out of our first batch of White Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix
Mixing some more up today AND...I've got a couple of easy gift ideas I'll be sharing with you soon!!

Read more...

Thursday, December 7

RECIPE | Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa


Oh my sweet, sweet friends.
This super simple Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa Recipe is what Snickerdoodle dreams are made of.
I am so happy with how it turned out and I just know you are absolutely going to LOVE this!
I even created a cutie foldable recipe card for you to print and keep - because it's an absolute dream!

(folds into a 4x6 - .jpg and .pdf file formats available)


You will need the recipe for my White Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix to make a Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa. OR...even though I haven't personally tried it, you can try the Ghirardelli White Chocolate Powdered Hot Cocoa Mix in place of my homemade version.  (if you try this, let me know how it turns out).

If you decide to try the homemade version, there's a cutie recipe card for that one too! *wink*



Once you wipe the smile (and whipped cream) off of your face from trying this, PLEASE let me know how much you love it!!

PS - If you missed the "Simple + Sweet" Hot Cocoa Bar I set up this year - go HERE!!

Enjoy!
xoxo,
Jess

KEEPiNG iT REAL
Man!! That recipe card is just TOO cute.
But seriously - Ella LOVES this Hot Cocoa and J said I could totally package this up and sell it! *wink*

Read more...
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