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.