Our Second Christmas: X and a flute

X on Christmas evening listening to his Grandad play his flute. Photo taken by my lovely SIL.

I hope you all had a very, merry Christmas. We sure did! (I’m sure I’ll come back over the next couple of days to tell you about all the frustrating things that happened over the holidays. A toddler with a home full of visitors—while trying to adjust to a toddler bed and teething— is a story all on its own.) We had lots of fun with gifts this year because he enjoyed opening the presents and playing with them. The little man actually only got a pair of pjs (that he wore on Christmas eve) from me and his daddy. But, he opened nearly 30 gifts from his aunts, uncles, odd parents, and grandparents… they went a little crazy over him. But, we sure did appreciate it and he loved every second of it.

My absolute favorite memory of the year was the evening of our Christmas celebration when X’s grandad played Christmas music on his flute. X was SO good! He did his best not to touch the flute, only gave in to temptation once or twice. He stood right in front of his Grandad with a look of pure awe on his face. He’d clap at times. He sang. He’d sign “more” when the music stopped. And, then, he looked around and did the above expression and looked at us all like we should join in on the fun! If I had just been able to use the above image for this year’s Christmas card! It would have been PERFECT! The flute experience was amazing, and hilarious. X’s uncle shot a video of the fun as well… enjoy!

Linked up to these parties:


and  then, she {snapped}thankfulthursdays}

Holiday Cooking Tip: Power up your Pepper

For the past two years my friend Joan and her husband Brandon have used Alton Brown’s Power Pepper trick to pepper our potatoes. They are always in charge of the turkey and the mashed potatoes each year… and, while they loved the taste of fresh ground pepper, they hated how much effort it took to grind enough pepper to properly pepper the potatoes.
Then… they saw Alton’s trick of attaching a drill to a pepper grinder and never looked back! They took the lid of the pepper grinder off and attached their drill to the rod that spins the grinder. Then, holding the grinder firmly in one hand, they pushed power. Not only did everything get properly peppered… but, they got to play with power tools in the kitchen. WIN WIN.

 

Friday Finds: 24 days of Free Christmas Downloads

OMMMMMGGGG…. this is awesome.
check out this amazing series featuring FREE Christmas downloads from designers.
Some of my favorites (so far) include the bold christmas gift tag printables from Lemon Squeezy and the calligraphy tags from Sweet Muffin Suite.
Oh, and there was a feature last year too!

Tips for Hosting a Holiday Party

Ahhh…. the holidays! It is time for mistletoe, eggnog, cozy sweaters, sparkly dresses and PARTIES! I love the thousand excuses that the holidays give us for celebrating. Basically from October til February it is party central in my brain.

There is no end to the different types of parties that are thrown during the holidays. And, whether you are having a cookie exchange or an elegant cocktail party there are a few simple tips that can make hosting a holiday party less stressful and much more fun. The following tips are items I try to keep in mind when hosting events during the holidays.

1. Schedule well— Yes, the holidays are the time for parties…. which means that your guests will probably have other holiday parties to attend as well. You might have a few to attend yourself. I had a couple of good friends plan a holiday party (and invite people) just to find out that one of them had a company holiday party to attend. You don’t need to plan your event around everyone’s schedules (but, you might wanna check your calendar first) but, there are a few simple things that can ensure you and your guests a less stressful event.

  • Plan in advance…. like WAY in advance. Give a lot of notice and a few reminders if you know you want to have an event. Send out invitations at least 3 weeks early if possible.
  • Plan the event at a day and time that will be more accessible to your guests. There are going to be a ton of holiday events on the Friday and Saturday evenings in the month of December. If your event lends itself to a different time or day, try an afternoon party or a fun happy hour type event on a weekday. Or, set up an open house so that people can come and go as needed.
I used the white christmas lights and garland throughout my partyscape!
2. Use your holiday decorations in your party decor! No one wants to take down an entire Christmas tree and all the trimmings because it doesn’t exactly fit with their party theme. And, many venues will have holiday decorations up. Work with it! All the baubles and decor items that are already up can actually help save you a buck or two on the overall party while still keeping the mood festive. Move items around and restyle them to make the space extra special.
3. Limit Yourself! It is easy to go overboard with any party, but especially holiday parties… I make myself set a strict budget and limit myself on the “projects” I am doing for the party. A few ways to limit yourself and still have a successful holiday party include:
  • Do signature drinks! Instead of having a full bar or a crazy array of beverages choose one to two specialty drinks and serve with water and another popular non-alcoholic option. This is for parties with or without alchohol…. there are a lot of fun non-alcoholic specialty beverages that can be made into a delicious signature drink. Not only will you save a lot of money on beverages if you do signature holiday drinks, but you can also have some fun and make the drinks truly memorable. One of my favorite signature drinks that I’ve made in the past are the “Bubble Machine” and “Ginger Jenni” drinks I made for last year’s birthday celebration.
  • Only make a couple of food items… I am such a fan of homemade food for parties. But, spending two days in the kitchen is certainly not stress-free. If I am having an at-home holiday party I either buy at least half of my food pre-made (cheese, veggie, fruit trays are awesome for this– just take out and put on a different platter!) or ask a few guests to bring items. Having the holiday party in a restaurant? No worries! Let the restaurant do the work for you!
  • Limit myself to three DIY projects. This is the hardest part for me because I love putting DIY details into an event. Typically, I  choose to DIY some paper printables for the party, a favor, and a centerpiece item. I always want to also DIY my outfit, all the party decor, and the food and drinks… but, then I go crazy.

I hope these tips will help you in planning your holiday event.

 

 Check out my guest post of
 “Tips for Attending a Holiday Party over at Simple Moments Stick!

Today is my birthday!
Yep, my favorite day of the year… and since it is 12/12/12,
 it is also a day I’ve been looking forward to for YEARS.
I’m throwing a little birthday bash this evening
(Party etiquette says you don’t throw your own birthday parties.
But my hubby, friends, & family forgive this little etiquette misstep because they know that getting to plan a party, for me, is a gift in itself! Thanks y’all! )
Follow along my day and see lots of pretty party pictures by checking out my instagram feed @jennibost or follow the hastag #121212jennibday 

Happy 12/12/12!

Want, Need, Wear, Read– My Wish List

Typically around this time of year I am thinking so much about what I want to do for other people that I get a bunch of messages from my family and friends asking me what is on my wish list. This year was no different.

And, while of course there are things I want (I like things)… very few items come to mind when people ask that question. I’m just happy to celebrate with people, especially this year. It has been a long, tough year and I just want to spend some good quality time with people I care about.

However, my sister and mother never, ever take that as an answer…. if you follow my Pinterest boards you might have seen me go a little online window shopping crazy with my wish list. Sorry about that!

A blogger I follow posted her Want, Need, Wear, Read list and I loved it…. so, I am mimicking her a tad and putting up my own list.

Want: I really want to get some pretty barware. I am in love with the twig barware kit and glass bottles with wood stoppers from West Elm. Seriously… check out that jigger! Lovely.

Need: Oh dear, oh dear… I need new underwear and bras SO bad. Pregnancy and nursing did a number on my body. I’d like to throw out all that I have and replace them with some pretty new things from Victoria’s Secret or something similar.

Wear: This area is always my biggest wants… I love things I can wear. Makeup, perfume, lipstick, shoes, purses, accessories, clothing. I love it all. Two things that are big on my want list are a pair of cute rain boots (Target) (I live in Portland, after all!) and a nice looking camera bag (Jo Totes.)

Read: It has been so very long since I have read something longer than a blog post. There are a couple of books I want right now. But, I’m also craving a magazine subscription or two. BUT, the one book I want the most right now is the 2013 Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition. I wouldn’t mind the short story and novel edition too!

What is on your Want, Need, Wear, Read Wish List!?

Free Printables make the Holidays Happier

I usually don’t like the holidays until my December birthday has passed. But, I guess the addition of the kiddo has made me REALLY look forward to this year’s festivities. I even brought my lil man to see Santa today—something that I swore I’d never do. He loved it. He is a friendly kid.

Anyways… as I was avoiding my real work, I found a couple awesome holiday free printable round-ups by Hey Look. I wanted to share with you!

Colorful Gift Tags— Free Printables from Around the Web
More Free Printables from Around the Web
I’m seriously in love with the feather gift tags from Love VS Design.
Photo via Love Vs Design
I promise to hold off on the rest of my Christmas holiday posts until Thanksgiving has passed…
We’ll start getting all Fall-like and Thankful beginning tomorrow!
Cheers and Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

Friday Finds: Holiday Gift Toppers

I love giving gifts.
I love the planning, searching, making and buying of gifts.
I then like packing them up so that someone REALLY wants to open the gift.
So, I was super excited when I found some of my favorite blogs providing great tutorials and/or free printables that I can use to top off my pretty packaging to make the gift really stand out.
Check them out!
the above images are screen shots of some of my favorite blogs
From Top Left Clockwise:
1. Brooklyn Limestone has some really amazing free printable gift tags for a tongue in cheek package. Check off whether your loved one has been naughty or nice this year!
2. These Doodle Gift Tags from Amy J. of Delightful Distractions make me SMILE. They are whimsical and perfect for this year’s homemade holiday.
3 & 4. Creature Comforts has put up too fabulous DIYs for gift toppers. These string poms are so much easier than the kinds I’ve made and this poppy will find its way onto some of my gifts this year!
Looking for even more?
Well, Smitten Blog Design (the company that designed my blog) has created some great FREE printable naughty or nice tags in the classic red and white color scheme.
AND
Catch My Party has the usual amazing round up of free holiday printables that can be used in your upcoming holiday parties or to tag your gifts this year.
Have a great weekend!
I hope these helped with your holiday packaging needs!

Merry Christmas!

We hope all of you had the very merriest of holidays today!
May the rest of this year be filled with great memories and moments of reflection!
—Always, Jenni and Brian

O Christmas Tree

It might be a little late to post this… but, I wanted to get it out here.
So, if you like it bookmark it for next year’s holiday decorating!
But, before I begin with this year’s Christmas tree I wanted to let you in on the Christmas Trees of Jenni’s past. I love the idea of a perfectly trimmed Christmas tree. My first year as a married lady I went all out with our tree and decorated everything in pretty golds and reds. We had a plastic tree then and I spent a fortune getting pretty garlands and ornaments to decorate the house for the holiday.
It was a beautiful holiday. *Sigh*
Six months later when planning our move to Oregon
we decided to get rid of the tree (among other things). So, we got to buy my very first REAL TREE!
We got it for a steal because we always wait til Dec. 13 to put up the tree. I was so very excited picking out the tree and dreaming of all the pretty things I was going to do with it. My husband on the other hand did not enjoy the process near as much. I drew a picture for you so you can see what he went through.
Brian didn’t like putting the tree on the car. He also wasn’t very happy when we discovered that we bought a tree that was six feet around and nine feet tall… real trimming of the tree was needed.
And, while he enjoyed the tree while it was up he really didn’t like it when it was time to take to get recycled. Needless to say he nixed the real tree idea for the following years.
The next two years we decided to not have a tree at all…. we instead decorated the house using items we already had and put up a couple of “little” trees.
It looked something like this (including the sad faces missing the tree):
It was slightly prettier in real life though:
So, to avoid sad faces, real trees or plastic trees that take up space year round… 
I needed a new idea for this year.
 
That is when I saw this at a local Anthropologie:
And, of course I had to try it!
 
So, while I didn’t take photos of each step I did want to put up a small tutorial on how to make your own fabric Christmas tree.
Supplies:
—Chicken Wire (we got 9 feet of it but could have used a little more probably)
—Lots and Lots of fabric cut into 2 inch by 12 inch strips (I ended up using about 10 yards)
—A large stick and a bucket to use as a base for the tree. Fill the bucket with heavy items like rocks and tape the stick in place. I think you could also use other items to serve as the base of the tree…. the chicken wire does a lot of standing up on its own. We used a small trash can and the cardboard roll from a large spool of fabric. 
 
Step One:
Create a cone like shape out of your chicken wire. This is not an easy process. It takes some time and you might get scratched. Sorry.

Step Two:
Tie fabric strips onto chicken wire skipping some of the holes so that the fabric lays nicely.
 

 Keep going…
 
 
Step Three:
Wrap lights around tree and add fun ornaments. I added fabric flowers. :)
 The Final Product:
 I think the tree looks slightly like something out of a Dr. Seuss book! 
 
Close up:

Dressed to Party: Holiday Parties!

I’ve been playing on Polyvore.com again! This time I was looking for festive outfits for holiday parties. These sets are ideal for a Christmas Cocktail Party, Holiday Open House, Work Party and New Years Eve Bash. Oh, and there might be one in there that inspires me for my Birthday! ;-)

Holiday Cocktail Party
Couldn’t you just swoon over these dresses. And shoes. And accessories. Ahhh… it just makes me look forward to the holiday cocktail dresses. Let me know which is your favorite because I am certainly having trouble deciding mine!
Holiday Open House
I think sweater dresses or skirts with sweaters make fantastic outfits for something like an Open House. Make it pop with a little bit of holiday cheer with the accessories. (Don’t go cheesy with the Christmas tree bling, but rather check out the sweater bracelets and the adorable jingle bell ring.)
Work Holiday Party
I love how both these outfits are stylish and work appropriate with just a touch of holiday cheer.

 

New Year’s Eve Bash
Blush, You Sparkle!
I love this set. It is one of the most expensive sets I’ve put together but I fell head over heals for that dress. Swoon. I think this set would be beautiful at a cocktail party, birthday celebration or a New Years Eve event.

The Reason for the Season

Image via Martha Stewart

I’ve had meaningful vacation in Oklahoma seeing my family and getting to spend some much needed time with my grandmother who is recovering from a stroke. This visit has really got me thinking about my life as I was growing up and, of course, of the upcoming holiday season.

My family life, growing up, was strange, yet wonderful. My sisters and brothers and I grew up in hard times with many different influences in our lives. I won’t play my little violin of woes though, because while we could have possibly had easier childhoods, we certainly had a childhood in which we were very much loved.

My relationship with my grandmother is one of the many blessed things that came from a childhood of struggle. She is my person… my person that I go to, my person that I look to and my person I’d happily emulate. (I am tearing up while typing this in a Starbucks in the middle of nowhere OKC). But, she seriously is one of the greatest people I’ve known in my life so far. She is a strong woman, fantastic mother, amazing friend and one talented lady. Everyone who has ever met her has loved her instantly. She has created such a wonderful family environment for us and for my extended family. Even after my mother and father divorced my grandmother (my father’s mother) always cared for my mother and invited her along to family events.

My grandmother always made the holidays for me growing up. Every year she would work on a ham to bring to Thanksgiving dinner and spent countless weeks working on stockings for each and everyone attending her yearly Christmas Eve Party. And after each of the holiday events we always got together casually just to eat left overs and bask in the love of the family.

Being home reminded me of how much I enjoyed the start of the holidays. It wasn’t about gifts (though, those are always nice) it wasn’t about the food (again, quite nice) but, it was always about enjoying our time with family and friends.

The holidays for me now, as I live states away from family, are about the family I’m creating. My friends, my husband and members of his family come together throughout the holidays. We are creating our own traditions—Brandon’s stuffed squash in our friend’s potluck Thanksgiving; Christmas morning brunch followed with a full kitchen of cooks working on an Asian-style feast for Christmas evening; and having traditional holiday meals from different areas of the world with Nick and Natalie.

I’m very thankful for the beginning of yet another season of enjoying old traditions and the creation of new ones. I’m thankful for the many people that make up my family.

 This is my reason for the season… what is yours?

Holiday Inspiration: SheKnows’ Holiday Party Planner

Okay, I know I’m skipping right from Halloween to Christmas here but I had to share this holiday planner with you! I promise I’ll get back to the holiday at hand as soon as possible (along with some other fun inspiration boards and a circus themed baby shower). But, for now… get inspired for the winter holidays!

When I saw Courtney from Pizzazzerie.com’s post about her Holiday Party Planner for SheKnows.Com I had to go immediately to check it out. If this beautiful 26-page digital wonder packed full of amazing photos and fabulous ideas doesn’t inspire you… well, I don’t know what will!

image via sheknows.com/holiday-entertaining-planner

The photos were taken by Kristin Steele Photography. The shots are inspiring alone but then add on all the ideas and you have yourself some winning work. (I obviously liked this thing!)

I really enjoyed that the party ideas were all new takes on the holiday. While I enjoy some tradition I do tire of party after holiday party of mistletoe, candy canes and hot chocolate.

The party that I can’t wait to throw (other than ALL of them!) is the Coffee and Dessert Party. I love all the browns and tasty looking desserts. I can’t wait to try the Gingerbread Latte!

Image Via sheknows.com/holiday-entertaining-planner
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