Monday, December 12, 2011

I'm Still Here


I know, I know...I've been a horrible blogger recently. I thought I'd rectify the situation with a beautifully inspirational post with lovely pictures and drool-worthy ideas but when I sat down to write, my mind was elsewhere. You see, we have an exciting opportunity happening right now that has me completely preoccupied. My free time has been spent researching, practicing, prepping, and preparing for some meetings. I'm too excited to focus on anything other than the importance of this opportunity and ensuring I don't screw it up. So I'm very sorry. Don't worry, the big day is tomorrow so after that I'll be able to refocus on the holiday season, gift planning and everything I've put on hold (including you).

Until then, can I give you just one lovely picture that represents my love of using nature in holiday decorations? Will that suffice?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Cards

As a child, I loved staring at our card display every year and reading the various letters people wrote updating us on their year. Never did I ever expect to be "grown-up" enough to send cards of my own. That was something families and old people did.

Well, last year John and I sent out our very first round of Christmas cards. It was fun to go through a list of people we loved, some we spoke to regularly, some we hadn't spoken to since our wedding. It was a way to tell them we are thinking of you. I greatly appreciate the cards I get from friends and family and I know they do, too.

This year, to further embrace our snowflake Christmas theme, I made homemade cards.  With my newly developed awesome snowflake making skills (seriously, after cutting hundreds for our non-tree Christmas tree and other various decorations, I'm a pro.) I whipped out some teeny snowflakes.  They were adorable and looked simple yet festive glued onto colorful cardstock.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Other Creative Trees

We have been greatly enjoying our Non-Tree Christmas Tree. (You can check out what a Non-Tree Christmas Tree is here and see our very own right here)  It's beautiful and wintery during the day and romantic at night.  I just love how the illumination on the snowflakes reminds me of watching snow fall beneath a street light.

I was curious to see what other creative Christmas Non-Trees have been assembled after finishing ours and enjoying it for a few nights.  Check out these awesome non-trees:




Have you ever had a non-traditional tree? If not, maybe you've known someone who opted for a non-tree? Thinking back, I've only ever known people who went the traditional route - Christmas trees, menorahs, etc.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Non Tree Christmas Tree

Note: This is the final post in a series of posts. You can read the following here:
Post 1: What is a Christmas Non-Tree?
Post 2: Snowflake Blizzard

We decided not to cut down a tree this year because we'll be heading to New Mexico to spend the holiday with my family for a week. It seemed like a waste to get a fresh tree and only enjoy it for a couple weeks before we head out and leave it all alone to die on Christmas Day. Instead, we decided to use the money we would have put towards the tree towards airline tickets.

Don't get me wrong, though. I love all things Christmas and that includes a Christmas tree. In an effort to save money, I decided to upcycle some things I had at home to create a Christmas Non-Tree. After picturing many different ways of creating a Christmas Non-Tree, I decided to use our tomato cage. It was the perfect shape and would be the easiest method.

After scrubbing it down and sanding some rust off, I got to work draping it with Christmas lights.

The easiest way for me to do that was draping them vertically and weaving them in and out of the metal rungs.

I then gathered my billion snowflakes and threaded them with fishing line. I made about 14 strands of snowflakes. After tying them together, I draped them over the tomato cage, arranged them carefully, and voila. A Christmas Non-Tree!

It looks beautiful lit up and reminds me of watching snowflakes drift around in front of a street light.

Now that we have a Christmas (non) Tree, I can finally start to get in the Christmas spirit. I still have some other minor ways I plan on transforming our home but until then I think I need to light a candle. One drawback to a Christmas Non-Tree is that it doesn't smell like evergreens. I guess you can't win them all!

Have you ever made a creative non-tree instead of going the tradition route? I'd love to hear all about yours!

A Snowflake Blizzard

Note: This is the second post in a series of the unveiling of our first ever Christmas Non-Tree.
To see the first post, go here.

I love snowflakes. Real snowflakes, paper snowflakes, glass snowflakes. They are a great way for me to enjoy the snow and winter wonder while staying warm and dry. It's also a great way to bring the winter wonderland into your home.

When I began formulating my plan for our very first Christmas Non-Tree, I knew I wanted to incorporate snowflakes. If I was going to throw tradition (ours and practically everyone's) to the wind, I wanted to embrace the non-tree idea and make it completely different from any of our previous trees. Enter snowflakes. They were my life for the past week. Every spare moment was spent cutting tiny geometric shapes out of folded paper. At one point my thumb was swollen and purple from the scissors and my finger tips bruised from folding. Still, though, I persevered.

Naive me thought about 75-100 snowflakes would be enough. Nope. I ended up cutting 193 snowflakes (yes, I counted).  I think I may be a snowflake aficionado now.

If you've ever wanted to know how to fold a snowflake, here you go!

1. Start with a square:

2. Fold in half diagonally:

3. Fold in half diagonally again:

4. You will have a smaller triangle:

5. Take one side of the triangle and bring in to the middle:

6. Bring the other side over so that the outer length lines up wiith the opposite outer length: *
*hint: sometimes you have to play around with steps 5 and 6 to get them to meet perfectly.

7. Cut the top and a bit of the point:

8. Cut random shapes out of one or both sides. Play around and experiment!

9. Unfold and check out your unique paper snowflake:

Stay tuned to see how I used these snowflakes to make our very first Christmas Non-Tree!
Part one - What is a Christmas Non-Tree?

Christmas Tree Day

Note: This is the first post in a series that will lead to the unveiling of our first ever Christmas Non-Tree.
For part two, go here.

Can you believe that today is the first day of December? I feel like September was just a few days ago!  Growing up, I always loved the month of December. The sparkling lights around the city, glowing Christmas trees glimpsed through windows, Christmas music playing in the stores. Such a hopeful, optimistic month filled with love and goodwill.

My family has created many many Christmas traditions and I hold each one of them dear. However, once I got married I knew I needed to create new traditions with my new little family. John and I were unable to fly home to New Mexico for our first two Christmas' which was sad and lonely, but I think it was also a way to drive home the point we are each other's family and we created amazing holiday traditions that we look forward to now.

One of the first things we did together for our first Christmas was chop down our own tree and decorate it together. That tradition, however, is going on the back burner this year. We are visiting New Mexico for Christmas and that has forced us to make some sacrifices both financially and with our traditions. We decided to use the money we'd typically spend on a tree towards our airline tickets.

Don't worry, though! That doesn't mean we aren't going to have a Christmas tree! We are simply creating a non-tree Christmas tree!  What is a non-tree Christmas tree, you ask? Well, it's a tree that is constructed from upcycled things you have at home. It's a way to enjoy the lights and ornaments and other decorations without having a tree (real or fake).

For the past week I've been cutting hundreds of snowflakes in preparation for the first ever Holt Christmas Non-Tree.  Our house is covered in little paper flakes and my fingers are bruised and sore. Our computer paper has been diminished and all I can see are tiny triangles and circles and folded paper.

By the end of the day, though, the Holt Christmas Non-Tree will be displayed for all to see. So, stay tuned for periodic updates on the snowflakes, the Christmas lights, the non-tree, and the holiday spirit!

Part two - Snowflake Blizzards

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

John and I are hitting the road this afternoon. To prepare we downloaded The Hunger Games audiobook (if you haven't read this, READ IT!! I plan to force John to love it as much as me by making him listen during the 8 hour drive), packed peanut butter sandwiches and a water bottle, and double-checked the directions.  To Maryland we go!

Are you traveling this week? Do you plan on driving or flying? What do you do to ensure no one goes crazy on long trips?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Place Cards

John and I are getting excited about traveling up to Maryland for his family's wonderful Thanksgiving blow out. When I say blow out you may think I'm exaggerating but, really, I'm not. I think the last number I heard of family members expected was around 60. We'll have every bed filled, every couch claimed and every dark corner filled with an air mattress. John's as giddy as a little kid on Christmas Eve.

Every year our little cousins are in charge of making the place cards and with our numbers that's quite a responsibility. The cards they whip up every year are always creative and fun (although we do switch around the seating arrangements right up until the meal starts...shhh).  I've been thinking about what they'll do this year and started brainstorming some beautiful but simple ideas for Thanksgiving tables that will be crowded with family members on Thursday.

 With a simple swipe of the hacksaw these pinecones are ready to hold seating cards. What a great way to entertain the kids - send them out to gather pinecones while everyone else is busy in the kitchen. Of course, an adult would have to use the hacksaw, but what a simple and rustic addition to the dining room table.

 This just makes me smile every time I see the picture. There are no words for this playful name card.

 Another way to keep the kids occupied is sending them out to collect twigs. As with all things nature, I love bringing in the rustic simplicity of this easy place card.

 These may be my favorite yet. The elegance and simplicity.

 You know me and my love for upcycling. What a beautiful way to recycle cardboard while creating a simple but fun pumpkin place card. I love it...although to be perfectly honest, my fingers hurt just thinking of all the cardboard that would have to be cut for our 60 family members. Perhaps for my side of the family, though, where about 12 will gather to enjoy family and food it would be more reasonable.
I think the kids would love to paint the rocks and they bring some color and whimsy to the Thanksgiving table.

What are your family table decorations? Do you have any traditions when it comes to decorating or cooking? When I was a kid, I'd spend the night at my grandparent's house and help decorate the table for Thanksgiving. Of course, I didn't have 60 place cards to make, just a simple centerpiece and table settings to set for 12-15 of us.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Cats and Dogs Wednesday

It's raining. Actually, it's pouring cats and dogs. Usually I get sad on gloomy and dreary days but today, after days and days of sunshiny weather, I'm enjoying the morose feel of this Wednesday morning. The windows are open and I'm sipping my espresso as I listen to the splashing drops. Layla is sleeping on my feet, keeping them warm and punctuating the rain drops with her sighs of contentment.

I still have piles upon piles of projects in various forms of completion strewn about my house. This morning, as John was hurrying around, he tripped over a smaller pile. Being the supportive man he is, when I apologized for my chaotic explosions he simply smiled and said what you're creating is beautiful. I melted.

On the phone last night, I was telling my mother how incredibly jealous I am of the recipients of these projects I'm working on. My sister's birthday is next week and she is receiving some amazing things that I've contemplated just keeping for myself. She'd never know. My other sister will be receiving the most amazing dorm-related present ever and I only wish I had had something like it in my own dorm room. I've stolen a few of my mother's Christmas gifts to use until I give them to her because they are too sweet to put away until Christmas. I suppose the definition of a great gift is giving something you'd love to have yourself. Mission accomplished.

I hope you are all enjoying this lovely week.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Drool Worthy

A) I survived the race! Actually, I did better than the original goal I made back when I thought I'd spend months training which was surprising and exhilarating. I'm not sure if it was the endorphins talking or what, but John and I are now planning on running an even bigger race next spring. Um, please remind me periodically to train. Thanks.

Those are my stripes sprinting by!

B) I came across this bedroom on Pinterest and immediately began salivating and dreaming and wanting. Thought I'd pass it along. I just love the bird art, the layers of gray, that pillow, the side table, the lamp, the headboard...see, totally drooling.

C) I am currently up to my neck in three different projects. I have a pile of streamers, cardboard and glue in one corner of my living room. I also have a pile of fabric, paint, and pins set up in front of the television. In the office is a mess of glitter, paint brushes and things waiting to be glitterfied. I've apologized to my husband multiple times, but I think he likes when I'm the messier of the two of us...less pressure on him.

D) Happy Monday! Today's forecast is sunny, 70's and beautiful. Hope your neck of the woods is sunny and beautiful, too!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Run, Kristen, Run!


John and I are in Richmond, VA this weekend for a little race. Please note that those last two words are said with sarcasm and wide eyes. You see, John signed us up for this race back in the spring when I thought, "Sure, there's time to train, let's do this!"  Throughout my four years of high school I ran cross country and track so I'm not a stranger to the running sport. It has been 11 years since then, though, and I haven't run longer than the distance from the couch to the fridge or maybe from the front door to the car (but only when it's raining) during that time.


Remember the little voice in my head about saying there was time to train? Well, fast forward seven months and I never trained. Nope. John woke up every morning and went running and to the gym and boasted about how awesome he was (okay, maybe not the last part but it did rub me the wrong way that he wouldn't laze on the couch with me instead of going running). I blogged on the couch, ate food in the kitchen, and overall didn't run. Until two weeks ago. Then I got scared. So I ran a couple miles. A couple times. And then stopped. Yup, I'm about to run a race that is longer than the total distance I have run in the past 11 years combined.

Wish me luck!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Meet the Hermaphrodite Cow

While perusing the dollar spot at Target last week, John and I came across a bin of plastic animals. As we started to play with them, we noticed the cow had both udders and horns. Laughing, we made some jokes about the cute hermaphrodite cow and how progressive Target is.

Well, fast forward a week and I still found myself thinking about the cow with both a set of horns and a pink udder. He/She was calling out to me, wanting to be adopted. Late last night, I finally broke down and went to rescue he/she from the bin of mocking animals.

Allow me to introduce you to Pat (or Chris...we haven't decided on his/her name).  John keeps referring to him/her as an it and I keep telling him he/she isn't an 'it" but a cow with an identity. Now he's referring to him/her as s/him. Close enough.

Let's get a close up on the awesome pink udder.

Check out the awesome horns. Very awesome horns. He/she likes to pose for photos - check out the flirty leg bend.

As I was picking out Pat (or Chris), I realized I couldn't just bring home a single plastic cow, even if it was a hermaphrodite. That would just be silly. He/she needed some friends, a plastic menagerie if you will.

Of course, at first they were a little shocked by Pat (or Chris). They, like John, weren't sure how to refer to him/her and they came across as a tad bit judgmental.

Now, after getting to know one other, they are best buds for life. Which is good because after some paint they will be on display together as my famous plastic menagerie that includes a hermaphrodite cow.
I did do some research online (7 seconds of googling) and discovered that there are a couple breeds of cows that do have both horns and udders. Who knew the Danish Red, the White Park, and the Texas Longhorn cows were so manly! Regardless, I'd still like to refer to Pat (or Chris) as a hermaphrodite. It makes me giggle and I enjoy having a diverse plastic menagerie.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Glitterize This

Glitter has a natural ability to make anyone smile. Glitter chases the blues away. Glitter is happiness. For the past few months I've been drawn to glitter like a raccoon to a shiny coin and like a moth to a porch light. Everywhere I glance I see shiny happiness and I crave it for myself.

I spent much of this weekend glitterizing secret things. The problem with making Christmas presents for family and friends is that I can't show them off here! Instead I will show off some glittery projects I've been appreciating from afar.


I am in love with this packaging idea! Since I don't have glitterized (oh, and yes, as of this morning glitterize is a verb) ribbon I bet I could accomplish the same thing with double sided tape dipped in glitter on one side.


This project has been blowing up my pinterest homepage for the past week or so - just an easy, genius, glitterized project!! I'm picturing silver and gold and blue...


Oh Martha. Beautiful! Actually, these remind me of some candles I bought from Target about three seasons ago that were beautiful and glitterized. It would be a lot cheaper to make them myself!


Glitterized pumpkins aren't just for Halloween, folks. Thanksgiving is begging for some bling this year!


Oh, excuse me, I'm sorry, I just swooned. This photo makes me fall in love with glitter over and over and over again.  Thanksgiving is going to be so blinged out!


When I have a little girl, her room will have many glitterized lanterns hanging from the ceiling. Every little girl needs glitter in her life.


I have yet to experience this awesomeness-in-a can first-hand, but from what I've read online, people can't praise it enough. Perhaps this weekend Glitter Blast and I will have a fun date.

I've learned that, while glitter is the herpes of craft supplies, it also just might be the heroin of craft projects. Once you glitterize one thing you're trapped and you'll find yourself wanting to glitterize your dog, your car, and your couch. What are some things you've been glitterizing?What color glitter do you think would make Layla like her collar of shame a little more?


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