Friday, December 31, 2010

Don't Stop Believin'

I think this will be the last Christmas post.  But as you know by now, I am a Scrooge no more, so I am well within my right to give you another Christmas post if I feel like it.  It's really the one you've been waiting for anyway.  The one you laid in your bed Christmas night wondering about.  What did Lauren get for Christmas????

I didn't expect to be totally blown away this year - Ryan and I have had some big Christmases the past several years with goodies like Coach bags and diamond rings.  (For me, of course.  His gifts have been pretty standard).  But because there are several things we are setting aside money for these days, we set a low limit of $50 for Christmas for each of us.  December is a rough financial month for us anyway, with Alli's birthday, birthday party, and our large extended families and fabulous friends.  So out on the hunt I went to find a fun, exciting present that he would love without breaking the bank.

Here's what I ended up with:

Razorback grill iron courtesty Foodista
Razorback grill set courtesy Ebay
Not too shabby eh?  As our grillmaster for tailgating and an overall grilling enthusiast, I expected Ryan would be extremely excited about these two Razorback finds.  Total money spent:  $75 (What??  You know I stink at restricting myself!!).   I was right - he was thrilled!  Our parents also took care of him - with his giving us a new Nikon S80 camera (please note new gorgeous blog photos - no more blurry iPhone pics!) and my parents giving him tons of new shirts and pullovers for work and golf.

I assumed that I would probably get perfume from Mr. Lowe.  I had been complaining loudly about needing some for a month.  He went above and beyond by getting me a big bottle of Chanel Chance complete with lotion and shower gel.  I was also taken care of with clothes galore and giftcards (and if you ever need a personal shopper, call my mom.  She's been dressing me fantastically for years, if I do say so myself).

But I've never stopped believing in Santa, and I've been especially good this year.  And the big guy never forgets to take care of your girl.  First, he gave me a Heifer International t-shirt and a share of a water buffalo!  My mom has just recently started working for this great organization whose mission is to end hunger around the world by "teaching men to fish" - giving familes in need animals (such as pigs, goats, and yes, heifers) and training so that peole can help themselves instead of taking handouts.  I have long admired the water buffalo as a beast of burdern since this Veggie Tales song:

But please note, mine is not slow.  Nor is he blue.  "Harold" is now helping to plant rice and potatoes and providing for a family who needs him.  (Seriously, go to Heifer International's website now.  If Santa can give me and the siblings a water buffalo, you can at least buy some honeybees or chicks).

And then Santa, that jolly old elf, gave me something a bit more.  Seriously, people.  Never stop believing in Santa Claus.  I knew I had been really good, but this was just too much.  I LOVE IT!!!!

So the Christmas decor is down and the house is back to normal.  No more presents, no more wrapping, no more shopping.  I'm a little sad.  What could help?  Ah, yes.  A present to myself, new Jessica Simpson oxford pumps:

Photo courtesy Zappos

Alert:  It's my wedding anniversary today!!  Happy happy happy sixth anniversary to my fantastic husband!  I love you!!  And thanks for telling Santa which ring I have been admiring!!!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

More Christmas Cheer

Again, I have to apologize for being so slow on blogtown this month.  Between a six year old's birthday party, a shower at my house for a bestie, three awesome holiday parties, a stomach virus, and Christmas itself, I've been a tad busy.

As I consider putting up the Christmas decorations tonight and tomorrow, I want to make sure I do give you the promised "Favorite Ornament" post.  Using the much-appreciated new Nikon S80 we got from Ryan's parents for Christmas, I've snapped a few photos of my favorite ornaments on our two trees. 

 This adorable Razorback ball is front and center on the formal tree in the living room.  This ornament was given to me by one of my closest friends Lindsey as a gift for throwing her a Christmas-themed bridal shower.  We had a great time!!  Lindsey's family and girlfriends came over to my house on a Sunday afternoon and showered her with new Christmas items for her house - ornaments, platters, bakeware, and a beautiful Nativity scene from her mom.  This ornament is a great reminder of that fun afternoon, and oh yeah, I kind of like the Razorbacks a little too.  Just a smidge.

 As we discussed in this post, reindeer are one of my favorite symbols of Christmas.  While I have several on our trees, this little guy is a particular favorite due to his snowy white color.  Who doesn't love a white ceramic animal? 

I suppose when my mom was growing up, one of her favorite Christmas symbols must've been the rocking horse - we have tons of them.  While there are quite a few on the tree, this one is my favorite.  I think it looks like a giant sugar cookie, and it's been hanging on the tree at home as long as I can remember.  I was so happy to see that Mom packed it up for me when she gave me my ornaments after Ryan and I got married.  Do not try to eat it.  Speaking from experience, it's better to look at it.

 If I showed you all of the ornaments my grandmother had given me, we'd be here until next Christmas.  This is one of my favorites - pink, shiny, fabulous. 

 The ornament on the top is just like one I bought for a Tri Delta Alumni ornament exchange last year.  The one on the bottom is the one I actually won.  "PEACE" - $2 in the bargain bin at Wal-Mart vs. my $15 leopard beauty.  I promptly went out to buy myself the leopard one.  But the PEACE has a very fond place in my heart - both Lindsey and I got craptastic ornaments after bringing gorgeous ones from Impressions.  Once we left, we died laughing in the car.  I mean laughing to the point of tears.  Who invited that kid?

 I made this little pretty in 1988 at the tender age of three.  I guess I had a flair for the dramatic and sparkly even then?

 These are three of the ornaments off of the formal tree that I love.  Christmas-colored zebra-inspired stripes?  Yes, please.  Weird flat polka dot ball?  Yes, please again.  And initial ornaments?  In heaven.

 I'm pretty sure I teared up and texted a picture of this ornament to my entire family when I found it in Alli's backpack after her first Christmas party.  I hope we have it for a long long long time!  I still have a picture of myself at kindergarten in a wreath on our fun tree, but this gem is the crown jewel of the formal living room tree.  Who can resist that face?

 I know I'm not the only child of the 80's who loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  But don't tell me I'm the only one who still hangs this ornament on my tree!  It doesn't even have a place to hang it anymore, but I lovingly prop it in the tree year after year.

So that's a not-so-quick summary of just a few of my favorite ornaments.  Fair warning so you can get prepared:  I will probably be MIA for another week or so.  We're Sugar Bowl-bound next week and then I fly to Chicago for work.  Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wishing you and yours...

...a very merry Christmas!  I know I've been MIA lately due to the wonderful hectic-ness of this season, but I wanted to stop in and make sure you were wished a fabulous holiday by your all-time favorite blogger.  Next week should be a lot more relaxed, so you'll get a full-blown Christmas season rundown then.

Hope Santa treated you well and that you had a wonderful lazy day with your favorite people like I did!  Merry merry merry Christmas to you!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Outdoor Decor (Say it so it sounds cool)

(Out-doooor decooooor - call me if you want to hear me say it.) 

In just two years we've gone from a lone boring wreath on the front door to a veritable winter wonderland.  Remember last year when Scrooge gave way to Papa Elf and Cindy Lou Who and allowed some fun outdoor lighting to occur?

Well this year, Miss Alli Bree decided that we needed a "blower."  That's what she calls the large inflatable godforsaken things that people put in their front yards.  I cannot stand them.  Seriously.  But Alli loves loves loves them.  I've fought this for years now, but something has changed in me.  Maybe my heart has grown three sizes?

Pure joy

"Blower", reindeer, peppermints, lights, trees, wreaths, festive bulbs...what happened to me?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Merry and Bright

I don't even need to link up to the posts to remind you that your favorite blogger is on a Christmas kick this year (but I will here and here and here).  Hosting a Christmas shower and making a pre-New Year's resolution to be more productive will do that to a girl.  So now that it's December 5th and I'm fully decorated and 2 presents away from being done shopping, let's do the Lowe Down Christmas Decor Rundown!

Let's start with the fireplace, the center of any home.  A little busy, eh?  I think/hope/pray it's a little easier to look at in person.  Of course you see the garland, complete with oversize ornaments and fabulous deco mesh that I did last year.  Hoping to find some lighted garland to replace it for next year.  Then there's a wooden reindeer that my grandmother gave me ages ago because she thought Alli would like it (and the woman has Christmas coming out of her ears, so I doubt she even misses it).  My other grandmother gave me the little Christmas village houses for Alli a few years ago when we were short on decor.  They are really cute and actually buildings from the North Pole - a mail building, a toy factory, etc.  Across the top you can see our Mudpie initial stockings (wish I had blogged last year about all the trouble I went through to get that "A" one...only to find it here in Fayetteville.  Sigh.).  And the stocking holders are reindeer (my favorite Christmas symbol) from Pier One that got a new coat of red spray paint this year (who's ever heard of a brown deer?).

Here are the side tables in our living room.  I've updated the photo frame to this year's picture of Alli with Santa (got that done yesterday and avoided the lines, I am on a ROLL).  You can also see empty candy dishes abound.  We can't keep a lot of candy around here because of the dogs.  And me. 

Here's one of my favorite gifts from Christmas-crazy grandma, Santa and his sleigh.  It sits on the coffee table.

Moving into the kitchen, here are some little touches I've added to less-obvious places.  I think it's really the small things that make a house feel festive.  The Christmas tree with the red candles was a gift from my aunt in Finland.

Here is one of my favorite Christmas displays in the house.  You can see the huge hurricanes I got for the the kitchen and added pumpkins to this fall.  Now I've replaced the pumpkins with Christmas balls, topped the hurricanes with Santa hats, updated the framed picture to a fun pic of our kids in their Christmas best, and put up the very special Nativity scene passed on to me after my grandfather died.  As a kid, I always played with this at their house, and as an adult I admired it.  It is the Nativity scene that all others must live up to in my eye.  So I was absolutely beside myself when my grandmother gave it to me after my grandfather passed away.   Ignore the pears, I'm hoping to get a fun, modern tabletop Christmas tree on clearance this year.

Circa Christmas 2006
Now, on to the three Christmas trees that grace Chateau de Lowe this year.  Here's the "fun" Christmas tree in the guest bedroom, on display in our only front-facing window.  See why I had to replace this kid this year?  What a sad little tree.  It's 6 feet tall and the entire bottom layer sags from the games of my little cats when they were little kittens. 
But, as Ryan said, our Christmas ornaments wait all year to be on display, so just because Mom wants a fancy tree this year doesn't mean they shouldn't get out of the box!  Methinks we will be on the look out for a discount tree after Christmas.  I'm hoping for a non-green one.  You know how I am about weird decor.  Look for a later post to detail some of my favorite sentimental ornaments on this tree.

I surprised Princess Alli with her very own pink and purple Christmas tree in her room.  She quickly moved the purple ornaments aside to display her newest ornaments:  a bulldog from my aunt and grandma, a pink pig from Grandma Christmas, and a flamingo from our family vacation to Myrtle Beach this summer.

And now, my pride and joy after years of wanting my very own tree!  How pretty is this?  First of all, we got a brand new 7.5' tree.  You can see I used the deco mesh as garland and bough about $20,000 worth of ornaments from local decor store Signed Sealed Delivered.  It still felt plain to me, but once I added the picks to the sides and top, the whole thing popped!  I am so in love with this tree.   This year, I am getting more comfortable working with the mesh, so I am thinking next year I will do the more chain-like look with it (those who know what I mean, I might need your help). 

I eventually want a less traditionally colored "done" tree - like pink and orange, or a peacock tree, or the fabulous green and white one I spied at Silks A Bloom in Little Rock.  Until then though, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

This post is dedicated to my beloved Grandaddy who died two years ago today (with his Christmas decor up and his shopping done).  He loved Christmas like a child and always made it special for me.  Love and miss you always.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope each of you enjoy my favorite non-birthday holiday. Eat until you're stuffed, be polite to your crazy family, and root for the Cowboys. And try not to break Mom's wrist this year in the family football game! Have a happy one!

Monday, November 22, 2010

You know you're a grown-up when...

As I reported here, I am catching the Christmas bug early this year.  Can you believe I already have three trees up in my house?  Can you believe every Christmas item I own is out?  Can you believe Ryan lit the entire house???  It's November 22nd, people!  Give me a pat on the back!

I've decided the reason I did not like Christmas in the past is because I am always ill-prepared for it.  Alli's birthday is in early December, so I tend to spend the entire month scrambling (and busting our budget).  But I am hitting it early this year, and I could not be more in the holiday spirit (I still love you, Thanksgiving). 

Case in point:  This year I decided to send out Christmas cards.  This is huge.  We've been a family for nearly six years now and we've never ever sent out Christmas cards.  So don't worry, I wasn't snubbing you.  No one got them.  But I decided I HAD to send them out this year.  Alli is in kindergarten, for goodness sakes!  So we got the crew together, took a great picture, and then I started shopping cards.

I've always used Shutterfly for our picture needs.  They have great shipping, great quality, great prices, and great promotions!  I can always find free shipping or discounts on my prints.  So I decided to give them a whirl on holiday cards as well.  Let me tell you, chickens, I was BLOWN AWAY.  Their selection, varying styles, and great prices made me flip!!  Check them out here.

These are a few of my favorites:

Ornament Pop Art Card

Sunny Honey Card

Wonder Trees Noir

I mean seriously.  How much would your girl love to live in Florida and send people holiday cards with palm trees on them?  I cannot wait to order our cards and get them sent out.  I'm also ordering coordinating return address labels.  I don't think my little hand could take all of that writing.  The return address labels are just as adorable - get over to Shutterfly and check them out!

Hope everyone has safe travels and a happy Thanksgiving (still my personal favorite holiday, thankyouverymuch).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Masterful Bedroom Reveal

I am going to give the long-awaited master bedroom reveal another shot.  Blogger didn't cooperate last time.

I lamented on the master bedroom's original look here (I think the only room that still looks the same from that post is the master bathroom, WOW!), I've updated on the master bedroom here, I've lamented more about it here.  And I gave you a little peak of it in my rhino excitement here.  But now, the moment you've been waiting for - an as close to done room as I can muster - the master bedroom!

You'll remember that my goal was to soften the master bedroom and I did so by removing the masculine, dark stripe bedspread and replacing it with a muted green comforter from Target.  We repainted the dark, cave-like grey walls (what was I thinking?) a beautiful soft blue.  And the rest, my dears, is history.

So here you can see the green comforter (I promise it's more green than yellow) complete with the light blue throw and pillows.  You can also see the great, soothing blue wall.  The crystal ball lamp from Target adds just the airiness I was looking for, total opposite of our scrolly heavy silver lamps from before.  Other than an alarm clock, I've decided to keep that end table clear.  Above the bed you can see a stunning example of my homemade artwork.  I got the letters and frame from Hobby Lobby ($5 per letter and $5 per frame for a grand total of $20).  The frames were on clearance in the custom framing section - I was extremely excited.  It's so rare you find big frames for cheap.  I spray painted everything to match the room, and voila!  Now Ryan and I will never be confused about whose side is whose.

Next up is the dresser.  Notice the other pretty crystal ball lamp.  I added a key/wallet tray for Ryan that was mine in college (it may say Tridelt on it...).  The bowl and decorative balls we already had, I just spray painted the previously bronze bowl white - I have no idea why I didn't do this sooner.  It completely changed the tone of the whole setup.  What an awesome example of what a little paint can do!  Then you see my pride and joy, my rhino.  Behind him is a jug that used to be red.  Ahh spray paint.

Here you can see the shelf on one wall.  This one hasn't changed much.  This shelf was formerly dark brown and I changed it to white to keep with the light, airy theme.  I would still love to add a bench of some sort below this for storage, but as you can see in the corner, our bulldog's crate takes precendence right now.

 Here's a shot down one wall to give you an idea of the room.  That door leads to the master bathroom.  You can see sunlight shining in through the lone window in the room (part of the reason I needed to lighten it up in there!).  The pics are two of our favorites from our honeymoon in Jamaica.  And there are the shelves I was having trouble finishing last time you saw them.

Now what about those shelves?  I've tried several items on them, but this is where we are right now.  I added an empty flower pot on the top shelf (another college item that may or may not say "Delta Delta Delta" on it).  At the recommendation of my friend Meredith in the comments section of this post, I added some aloe vera plants that only need watering every few weeks.  I got the cute little green vases at the new Jo Ann store here in Fayetteville.  Also, please note the light and sheer window treatments.  I didn't want any light blocked at all.

Well that's it.  Now you've seen our pretty, serene, airy master bedroom in all its glory.  Oh.  Wait.  I forgot something.  The final corner of the room that keeps me up at night.  How do you ever successfully decorate around a MAN???  Please, Mr. Lowe, let me get a pretty little corner cabinet or something!!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Yes, your girl is humming Christmas carols on November 18th.  And she's halfway done with her Christmas shopping.  And her tree is going up this weekend.  Can you believe it?  Remember this post 355 days ago?  I guess I actually am a Scrooge no more.

One of our most fabulous Christmas traditions is the Salvation Army Angel Tree.  Since Alli was a little baby, we have gotten a little girl from the tree who was her age.  Then we go shopping as a family for the child.  I think it's a great tradition that I hope to continue for a long time.  Awesomely enough, our work has an Angel tree so I don't have to lug it all up to the mall during this crazy holiday season. 

As soon as the tree came out at work, Ryan went to go pick a little girl off of it (it's closer to his building than mine).  This year we got a little girl who is 5 and wants Barbies, a Barbie house, and Barbie accessories.  How perfect is that? 

Tonight was the night we went shopping for her.  I think Alli had almost as much fun as Ryan and I did.  She was extremely thoughtful about which Barbies and clothes we were getting.  She wanted to make sure there was one with every hair color, just in case our little girl wasn't a blonde.  We also got a Ken doll "so they could kiss."  What do they teach them in kindergarten? 

Here's a shot of the loot:

Oh yes.  Let's break it down, shall we? 
  • 3 Barbies - a blonde cheerleader, a reddish-brunette fashionista, and a hippie-chic dark headed one 
  • One Ken doll 
  • One set of clothes for the Barbies and one change of clothes for Ken
  • A Disney Princesses blanket
  • A vacation home for the Barbies
  • A huge pink carrying case for the Barbies that came free with our purchase
How awesome is this?  And how bad is it that I secretly wanted to go buy duplicates for Alli (and me)?  There's nothing I love more than dressing Barbies.  Alli can't stand playing with me when we are playing Barbies because all I do is dress and re-dress them.

When we shop for the Angel tree kiddo, I always get them a few warm clothes as well. 

You know I had to throw the horse in there!  I hope this little girl has a really special Christmas, and I am so happy that my family is able to help hers out.  Please remember the reason for this season!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dear Blogspot, I am so mad at you.

I just finished typing a fantastic post revealing our master bedroom, and blogger didn't save it.  Mad.  Furious.  Going to bed.

No Hogs in Town = Weekend Warriors

Because the Razorbacks were in South Carolina playing the ol' ball coach this weekend (and our awesome Hogs won by a landslide, FYI), we had no guests and nowhere to be.  This is one of the 4 weekends I have off from the Piggies between Labor Day and Thanksgiving weekend.  You'll remember what happened on one of those weekend here.  And no, I never did get off the couch.  I decided to make this one count, so here's the rundown so far:

  1. Got my hair did.  Went a little darker for the fall and cut a few inches off.  Don't panic, I'm still blonde.  Just a "it's fall" blonde instead of "I just got off the beach" blonde.  I'll be back, beach blonde.
  2. Apologies for the fuzziness, pjs, and rabid dogs.  This is my life.
  3. Painted the hallway - a project that has been waiting for several months.  It's the final repainting I plan on doing for a while...although the kitchen is screaming for a new color.  Ryan might kill me though.  We decided to paint the hallway the same color as the new living room, Behr Surfer.
  4. Behr Surfer down the hallway.  Do not try to peek into the updated living room!!
  5. Had a few super exciting shopping trips/deliveries for the new living room.  It's really coming together!!  I can't wait to reveal it, but it still needs a few finishing touches.  So until I can, I'll let Lola give you a sneak peak (yes, she really is that gorgeous, no need to adjust your monitor):
  6. Gorgeous Lola lounging on her new nap spot - apple green Target ottomans for just $16 a piece!
  7. Updated a few pieces already in the living room that needed some tweaking, like painting this cute little (formerly black) table I scored at Hob Lob like, 2 years ago for $20.  It's now a punchy watermelon color, tying in with some other living room accents.
  8. Hot pink side table - get excited for the living room reveal in a few weeks!!
  9. Bought buckets of new ornaments and swag for our "done" Christmas tree.  Hostessing a Christmas bridal shower at my house in a few weeks has me rethinking all things Christmas around Lowe Land, and I've decided to have a decorated, non-childhood ornaments tree.  Here are the bags of goodies on my closet floor (Don't worry, they've already been moved.  I hate clutter.):
  10. YAYYY for Christmas swag!!
  11. Put away Halloween decorations and made the proper adjustments for my personal favorite holiday, Thanksgiving.  Check out the decor on our side table in the "dining room" ("dining room" = breakfast nook off the kitchen since we don't have a formal dining room):

So that's the rundown of the weekend so far!  The house is also clean, no thanks to us - love you house cleaner!!  Left to do today: 
  • Take Alli to see MegaMind - we are so excited to see this animated movie with Will Ferrell
  • Pick up my niece and neph-dogs from Dog Party (awwww)
  • Drop by my FAVORITE craft store (and client) Jo-Ann's for a living room project
  • Swing to Home Depot for an awesome quick fix that is going to look amazing - deets later, if it works
  • Watch the Cowboys, if I can stomach it
Watch the ol' blogosphere for a master bedroom reveal tonight, assuming the Cowboys start getting tromped.