Thursday, December 18, 2014

Our Holiday Home

Yesterday I shared E.J.'s stocking with you, so today I thought I would show you a little more of our holiday decor. The decorations themselves haven't changed much from the many other "holiday home" posts I've done, but we're decorating yet another home for the first time this year (and our first house!), so I wanted to share.

I suppose it makes sense to start on the outside and make our way in, don't you think? We've never put Christmas lights on a house before! I just put some greenery swags with lights in the windows of our porch and our big wreath on the front of the house. It's nothing fancy or elaborate, but I like how it looks.

Welcome to our Christmas house!

We also have our usual wreath on the front door.

Our red door is so festive!

Let's go inside!


Let's look at the dining room first and then backtrack to the living room. The entrance to the dining room is adorned with a mistletoe ball, a fun Advent calendar my cousin made for me last year and Christmas cards we've received. (There is also a snowman wall hanging on the left side of the doorway and an Advent calendar on the right, but those didn't make it in the photo!)

We've collected more cards since this photo was taken!

In the dining room, we have a festive tablecloth and our Advent wreath, along with some holiday wall art and a big singing snowglobe on the floor that my mom brought for the kids. We also have our old stocking hanger and stockings along the wall into the kitchen.

The dining room

Advent wreath, with my angel candle snuffer

We bought that stocking hanger when we lived in NYC, so we didn't have to tape our stockings to the heater anymore. I still love it, even though we have a real mantle now!

Even Ellie's little table nook is decked out with a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, her holiday artwork, some Christmas books and her Little People Nativity on the bookshelf.

Ellie Christmas decor!

Both kids also have stockings hanging on their doors.

Cute little stockings

Now let's go into the living room - my favorite, homey space!

The living room!

Of course, there is our dear little tree, standing strong despite being totally overloaded with ornaments.

Another year for this tree!

I especially love how the tree looks standing by our fireplace. The mantle is decked out in greenery and is adorned with almost my complete nativity collection (minus one that wouldn't fit and is breakable, thus is still packed away from toddler hands this year).

I mean, how cozy is this?!

My Willow Tree nativity is the centerpiece on the mantle

To the left is my Three Wisemen nativity from NYC, our little nativity from Pinehurst, NC, and a smaller one from Mexico

The nativities to the right: a teeeeeeeny tiny one from Christ Church in Philadelphia, a little one from Tanner's Orchard in Illinois, and a beautiful one my dad gave me.

And of course, all of our family stockings are hung by the chimney with care.

Achilles is in the center, and Ellie and E.J. are on the right

Eric's Santa stocking, and my felt ornaments (someday I plan to cross-stitch stockings for both of us, too!)

I just love our little Christmas house. It's cozy and homey and warm and inviting. I'm going to be sad to see the decorations go in a few weeks, but for now I'll continue to enjoy our tree with a glass of wine by the fire!

Perfect! Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

E.J.'s Stocking

You may recall that for Ellie's first Christmas, I cross-stitched a stocking for her. I had originally planned to make her a birth record, but decided a stocking was a more practical project, and something that could still be a treasured keepsake. It was a true labor of love (much of it was stitched during our post-Hurricane Sandy black-out), and I hope she will think it's pretty special someday.

Of course, when E.J. was born, I knew I wanted to do the same for him. I searched for and selected a pattern I liked before he was born, and started working on it during his two-week hospital stay. I have been working on it as much as possible since then and finally finished it up last week. Once again, my mom was kind enough to help me with all the assembly, because I am a pretty lousy (or at least, inexperienced) seamstress and the idea of possibly messing up the assembly of something I had already spent so much time on made me twitch. Thanks, Mom!

Care to see the finished product?

E.J.'s stocking!

I'm very pleased with how it turned out!

One of my favorite details  of E.J.'s stocking is the lining. Ellie's stocking is lined with fabric leftover from a homecoming dress my mom made for my sister, but for E.J.'s, I planned ahead and opted to select a more fun Christmas print to line the inside of his stocking:


I love seeing both of those stockings hanging side-by-side on our mantle this year. I hope that Ellie and E.J. treasure them and know how much I wanted to make something special for them. Those stockings were made with love! Cheesy, but oh-so-true.

Handmade stockings for my sweet babies!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

San Marco Holiday Magic

This past Saturday we went to yet another fun holiday festival and run in Jacksonville: the San Marco Holiday Magic festival in San Marco Square, and the Festival of Lights 5k.

Given that this holiday fun was basically in our own backyard, we knew we had to take part. My mom was visiting for the weekend so she was able to join us. Eric had a TFA function all day, but got home just in time to get ready and walk out to the square with us. When we got there, we dove right into what was probably Ellie's favorite attraction of the evening: the petting zoo!

Ellie and a goat

She particularly liked these ducks!

Silly pig!

Gee, I hope she doesn't pet that goat too roughly.

They had all sorts of other things to do, too: a bunch of inflatable bounce house type things (we didn't mess with those), horse-drawn carriage rides (we just admired the horses), Santa Claus (we already met him this year, so no need here), a train to ride (nope, skipped that, too), and entertainment like stilt walkers out in the crowd.

That is one tall Santa!

Hanging out by the horses

It may sound like we didn't do much, but the real action happened after Eric left us to run his race. That was when we found the freebies: chocolate-covered popcorn, regular popcorn, candy canes, Firehouse subs, balloons, glow bracelets. We cleaned up!

Here's Ellie chowing down on popcorn, wearing her glow bracelet, with her balloon tied to the stroller. Hey, who is she to turn down a freebie?

While we were gorging ourselves on free food, Eric was running the Festival of Lights 5k, which left from San Marco Square and stretched around the surrounding neighborhood. The entire route was lined with luminaries and the runners were given jingle bells for their shoes. How festive! Eric ran yet another great race, his fastest 5k of his adult (post high school) life! Impressive!

Goooo, Eric!

By the time the race was over we were satisfied with all we had seen and done and were ready to get the kids home for dinner and bedtime, so we wrapped things up. Another fun Jacksonville holiday evening in the books!

E.J. approves!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas in Avondale

When I left off last week, we had just enjoyed a very festive morning with the Gingerbread Man Dash and Christmas Parade in St. Augustine. But that wasn't all for that super Christmas-y day! That evening, we attended Christmas in Avondale, an event we enjoyed last year and were excited to participate in again this year. It's a fun evening on the town, with the street closed to traffic and all the local businesses staying open late to offer free food, crafts, activities, movies and other fun.

This year, we made reindeer food...

It even has sparkles in it, so when you scatter it in the yard, the reindeer will see it! Naturally.

...snacked on popcorn and watched movies while sitting on bales of hay...

This girl loves some popcorn.


...made a gumdrop snowflake...

Eric did a fine job of making sure Ellie didn't impale herself on a toothpick during the assembly of this craft. Way to go, Daddy!

...partied with an animatronic Santa...

She was riveted.

...visited a photobooth...

Behold! I give you: Drunk Reindeer Baby, Side Chins Elf, Steamy Glance and Eric.

...made a pipe cleaner candy cane to hang on our Christmas tree...

The tongue of concentration! That's how you know she's serious.
(She said, "I'm making a necklace for Mama! I do this all the time.")

...decorated a gingerbread cookie...

...and burned off a good bit of pre-bed energy after a long and very fun day.

He's just always so jolly.

Ellie is a big fan of running in circles these days. Mama? Not so much.

We had a great evening!

Friday, December 12, 2014

St. Augustine Christmas Parade

When we finished the Gingerbread Man Dash I posted about yesterday, we weren't through having holiday fun in St. Augustine. The town was holding its Christmas Parade that same morning, so we left the race and went downtown to scope out a spot to watch.

We drove around a bit trying to find parking, but eventually found a spot and made our way to the parade route. The parade was to begin at 10:00 and we got to our spot (right on the curb!) around 10:20, which was perfect timing. We had just enough time to get settled and snap a couple of pictures before the parade reached us.

Ready for the parade!

Parade time!

The parade was great fun. It was quite an eclectic assortment of participants, from pirates to princesses to bunnies to tigers, accompanied by nativity scenes, marching bands, local businesses, decked out cars, dressed-up dogs and even Storm Troopers in kilts. Something for everyone!

One of several nativity scenes we saw


Marching choir

Tiny horse

One of many pirates!



Rudolphadillo, naturally

Balloon snowman

One of the marching bands

Storm Troopers!

Nothing says Christmas quite like Darth Vader in a kilt and a Santa hat

The Grinch

Decked out cars

The kids, of course, were as cute as buttons, and seemed to really enjoy themselves. E.J. happily bounced up and down for...well, everything, because E.J. loves everything. Ellie took a little longer to warm up to the whole thing but hey, toss a couple of lollipops her way and she's yours. We had a great time!

Ellie at the beginning of the parade...

...and Ellie with a lollipop.

E.J. trying to taste his first candy cane

Sometimes things got a little too loud.

Pretty Ellie watching the parade

Trademark E.J. joy!

This faaaaaaaace. It's too much.

We didn't stay until the end of the parade, so I'm not sure how long it really went on, but we caught about an hour's worth of marching fun before calling it quits in favor of beating traffic to get home for lunch and naptime. We needed to rest and recharge, because the day's holiday fun wasn't over yet!