Jet Setting

My apologies for the very light blogging over the holiday break. I have been focusing on spending time with loved ones and enjoying being "unplugged".

Today we embark on a family adventure to the Pacific Northwest. I hope to share some snippets of our adventures as we explore the PNW in the winter. Follow me on twitter @thesimplyfab for updates!

Wishing you and yours a fun-filled, fabulous New Year!


Christmas Traditions

I love Christmas.  No, really I do.  I love the lights.  I love the little details.  I love the Christmas cards.  I love the smell.  I love the shopping, duh.  I love the nativity.  I love the decor.  I love the recipes.  I love the music.  I love the clothes.  I love the elves.  I love the FEEL.  I love the wrapping.  I love the meaning.  I love spending time with family.  I love Santa.  I love the made for TV movies.  I love the kids excitement.  I love the thoughtfulness.  I love baby Jesus.  I love the tradition.

Christmas is rooted in so much tradition.  The story of Saint Nicholas reaches far back and is more than just spoiling children.  St. Nick was a good, holy, generous man who lived his life a Jesus taught us.  If you are not familiar with the story of St. Nick, read about him here.  We are all familiar with the story of Jesus' birth but I try to take time leading up to Christmas day to really reflect on the miracle of Christmas.

As a family of two small children we are in the process of creating our own traditions.  As a child I always loved having an advent calendar.  It was never anything fancy, just a basic little card that we opened each night, but it was something I looked forward to.  In that spirit, I wanted to create an advent tradition that would teach our kids about the advent season while also giving them something to look forward to.  There are so many advent ideas on Pinterest, but I loved the idea of a book advent calendar.  I began collecting Christmas books in early November.  Vivi and Cade both enjoyed having a new bedtime story every night.  A few of our favorites are God Gave Us Christmas, That's Not My Santa, and Jingle Bugs.

Of course, we also started the The Elf on the Shelf tradition this year.  Vivi really loves our elf, Elfie but I think next year it will be more age appropriate.  I also hope that I can be a little bit more creative about where Elfie shows up each morning!  Jen McKen Photography and The Party Dress both have some super creative and easy ideas!

I love decorating for Christmas.  Each year I have to mentally remind myself that there is a season for Christmas and not become premature with the decor.  That being said my Christmas is put up on the day after Thanksgiving.  My husband usually spends that weekend at the ranch deer hunting, so it is a great way to spend the weekend with the kids.  Inside baking, listening to Christmas music, and putting up the Christmas cheer.  This year we also gave the kids a tree in their playroom.  You can catch a glimpse of our Christmas Decor here and here.

Our Christmas Eve traditions are in the making.  Growing up we would always have a grand Christmas breakfast complete with dutch babies, sausage, bacon, fruit, orange juice and coffee.  It has always been my favorite breakfast.  As such, I have altered that tradition to fit our family and now we enjoy the bounty on Christmas Eve.  A perfect way to begin the family filled day, baking cookies for Santa and listening to our favorite Christmas tunes.  Later that day we attend Christmas Mass, followed by dinner and gifts with my husbands paternal family.  We have started drawing names, which I prefer.  It simplifies the Christmas shopping and allows us to put real thought into the gifts.

Christmas morning will be extra special this year.  It is the first year that we will have Christmas in our house with a tree and a toddler that is over the moon excited about everything Christmas.  I cannot wait to see her face when she discovers that Santa ate the cookies she made him.  Or spots what he left her under the tree.  Or uncovers what little goodies are in her stocking.  Or when she opens her gifts from family.  I cannot wait to see her little face when she helps Cade open his presents.  Or sees her cousins at Trey's parents house for Christmas Breakfast.  Or savors Christmas lunch with Trey's maternal family.  Or snuggles on the couch for Christmas movie night.  I am looking forward to spending the whole weekend as a family.  Although we have a lot of places to go, people to see, sports to watch, and food to eat, we will be doing it all together.

How will you be spending your Christmas weekend?  What Christmas traditions do you look forward to?


Milk + Bookies Christmas Playdate

Last week my sister-in-law and I hosted our first annual Christmas playdate.  My December calendar has been full since Halloween.  With all the parties we get to attend, why not create a little fun at home for the kids?  I began researching party themes in the beginning of November and was seeing hot cocoa bars popping up over the blogosphere.   There they were at birthday parties, weddings and nearly every winter party in between.  When I saw the Snowman Soup set designed by Kori at Paper and Pigtails, I was sold.  She designed the perfectly modern and festive look I was after and kindly donated the set to our party.

Aside from having a fabulously designed party, I also wanted to encourage the joy of giving.  Working with Milk + Bookies, we were able to collect and donate books to benefit the children at Cooks Children's Hospital in Fort Worth, an organization that has touched our lives as well as the lives of so many of our friends and family.  Milk + Bookies is a nationwide organization that encourages children to pick out and give books to their peers, whom otherwise may not have access to them.  Milk + Bookies parties range from birthday parties, to library activities, to full classroom projects.  To find out more about Milk + Bookies and how to host your own party, visit their website.  The kids and I had such a fun time shopping for books for the children at Cook's.  Vivi selected a few of her favorite bedtime stories and was excited to give them to other kids.  It feels so good as a parent to watch your children learn how important it is to think of other people and give back to your community.

Of course our schedule blew out the window on the day of the party.  Food not ready on time.  Kids taking short naps.  Babysitters late.  You name it, it happened.  So, I was unable to get the number of shots I had hoped for.  As I said before, this was the first annual.  Surely next year I can learn to get the pictures done ahead of time.  And, that not everything needs to be made from scratch.  I am sure the kids would have been perfectly happy with Swiss Miss hot cocoa.


I made hot cocoa from scratch using this recipe.  While it was most definitely delicious it was also very rich.  I think next time I will use premade mix or a simpler recipe.  The hot cocoa bar was complete with peppermint hot chocolate stir sticks, peppermint and chocolate marshmallows, mini marshmallows, whipping cream, and sprinkles.  We also offered hot coffee from Starbucks, and used the child's sized Starbucks cup for both the hot cocoa and coffee.  I found the snowman beverage dispenser at Target.  Isn't he cute?!

The mommas sipped on Pomegranate Prosecco punch that was festive and refreshing.  I highly recommend this recipe for a holiday soirée.  We nibbled on elf cookies (cheerios), strawberry santa hats, snowman cupcakes, and cheddar jalapeno dip and chips.

All of the kids were sent home with snowman glitter cups that I found at Target and a note that said "Thank you for donating!"  We had such a great time catching up with friends and watching our kids play together.  I am already thinking about themes for next year!


TSF Christmas Card

Pulling together this card was quite the process.  I probably take 3000+ photos a year, but very few of our family, and even fewer of our family that I like.  Someone isn't looking at the camera.  Someone's eyes are closed.  Someone's hair looks weird.  Someone is crying.  The picture is blurry.  The picture is too dark.  The picture is too washed out.  I could go on.  Of course in my effort to get that ever elusive picture, I downloaded a trial run of photoshop, and then loved it so much I had to buy it :) Then used my sketchy photoshopping skills and a lot of googling to eventually create a picture where we looked like aliens.  Trash.  That's when I threw in the towel and decided to go with the best available picture. 

This is the second year that I ordered our cards from Tiny Prints.  I continue to be impressed with the quality of the printing, the weight of the cards, the wonderful customer service and the fast turnaround.  All of that coupled with great deals during the Christmas Card rush and I am one happy customer!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

**TSF was not compensated in any way for this post.  These are purely my opinions.


TSF Christmas Decor

What is it about decorating for Christmas that makes your home that much more welcoming and cozy?  Once Halloween has come and gone I am guilty of listening to Christmas music in anticipation of the upcoming season.  While I confess to listening to carols earlier that I ought to, I restrain myself from putting up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving.  The day after Thanksgiving I spend the day putting away all of Fall and taking out my precious Christmas decor.  

My home is very traditionally decorated and my Christmas decor is merely an extension of my design aestetic on a day to day basis.  I love metallics at Christmas with accents of traditional red and green, usually described as traditional rustic glam, but pretty light on the glam.  I always incorporate burlap, and this year I bought a beautiful ruffled monogram burlap tree skirt from It's In The Bag.  Burlap was also wrapped around mini rosemary trees that were placed throughout the house.

My fireplace mantle was inspired by the November-December 2011 issue of Traditional Home, which featured a gorgeous Dallas home that was glittered with mercury glass accents.  Her mercury glass trees were both antique and new.  I found my trees at United Market Street and Target.  The garland is from Hobby Lobby and was customized using greenery spray from Nicholson-Hardie.  Our traditional needlepoint stockings are from Lands' End.  And I have yet to find the perfect stocking hangers, so for now they will continue to hang on the fireplace tool's stand.

Our dining room has a few elegant touches, reminiscent of a cold winters night with a palette of brown, white, and white gold. Some sweet friends gave us the beautiful white poinsettia that on our dining room table.  I loved the white on white of the poinsettia in the antique swan planter that my SIL graciously bought me in Round Top earlier this year.  The extra-large pinecones have a metallic sheen to them.  I had to have them when I saw how beautifully they were displayed at Mary Cates on Lover's Lane in Dallas, if you have not visited them you must!  Greenery sprays and an antler shed were added to the vignette on the buffet.  The whole room would be complete with my Juliska china, monogrammed white linen napkins and these napkin rings!

The little snow globe sits in my entryway console alongside a basket full of this years Christmas cards from friends and family.  I found it at Anthropologie and thought that it was so whimsical and fun, I had to get one.  They come in all shapes and sizes, the smallest is made out of a salt shaker!  To see more shots of my Christmas Tree, visit this post.  One thing that my home is lacking is a nativity scene. I love this one.  Too bad it is sold out, would have been a great addition to our home.  Next year I will be sure to get one early!  In the meantime I will hope to win the lottery so I can buy this one.


Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to my sweet friend Kelsey from Gal on the Go Go, winner of the fabulous white feather wreath by Ellie Boo Designs!  It will be a wonderful holiday addition to your sweet little abode.  Thank you Robin for hosting this gorgeous giveaway!

In other news, my SIL and I hosted a sweet Christmas playdate last night for some of our dear friends and their little ones.  Pictures to follow soon!


Tangerine Tango: 2012 Pantone Color of the Year

Pantone named tangerine tango  the official color of 2012 this week.  An unexpected but fresh and modern color choice.  Pantone described it as exotic and friendly, and I couldn't agree more.  For another fresh take on the newest color of the year, head over to The House of Turquoise where Erin rounds up her favorite orange and turquoise combos.

**Don't forget to enter the giveaway HERE**

images via: {Jonathan AdlerWedding Dress BlogSheridan FrenchHouse BeautifulStand TallHarvestElements of Style BlogThe Blue House, The LennoxxStyle.comPhotoRadarSimplified BeeCreative Baby Nursery RoomsThe Barn Wedding BlogHabitually ChicCake Theater}


TSF Christmas Tree and Giveaway Announcement

My tree has been up for weeks now but I can't help tweaking and perfecting it on a daily basis.  Here are a few recent photos of its current state.  For the record, regarding the ongoing Christmas Tree debate, I prefer a sentimental tree over a themed tree.  That being said, my sentimental ornaments are strictly glass.  I LOVE European glass ornaments.  One of our family traditions is receiving a new ornament each year (or 2 or 3).  So slowly but surely the tree is filling up with beautifully made little works of art.

This year I added green and gold ribbon to the tree.  I love how the ribbon fills in bare areas between the branches and add a bit more color.  I definitely prefer the ribbon to hang vertically rather than wrap around the tree.  It is much easier to hang it this way as well!  I think next year I will find thicker ribbon in bolder colors to add more of a punch.  My favorite ribbons come from Neiman Marcus, but of course they are most definitely out of my ribbon budget.  $40 for a spool is a little ridiculous if you ask me!  Another addition this year, which I could just not get a great picture of, is this sweet santa tree topper by David Strand.  He trained under Christopher Radko and is an incredibly skilled artisan.  I found this beauty at Nicholson Hardie.

Last year I found that stunning glass rose at Neiman Marcus and had to snatch it up in honor of the Frogs making it to the Rose Bowl.  Swans are one of my favorite creatures, there is just something so elegant about their long curving necks and how gracefully they glide through the water.  I loved this swan ornament, also from Neimans, for its long feather tail.  The other ornaments shown were found this year at Pier One and Nicholson Hardie.

Of course there are a few more sentimental ornaments that have been added to the tree this year.  I found this sweet little turtle at Neimans Last Call for Vivi, in honor of her turtle birthday party.  And of course we had to honor Cade's first Christmas with this sweet rocking horse that I found at Lawrences.  We have also collected a new ornament for each home that we have lived in as a family.  I loved this little cottage and it resembles our house, if you kind of squint a little bit.    

Giveaway info...
The giveaway deadline has been extended through the weekend and a winner will be drawn on Wednesday, December 14 at 3 pm.  I am in the middle of planning a party for next week and would like to give more readers the chance to enter!  Right now the odds are pretty fantastic, so if you have yet to enter, do so here!


Ellie Boo Designs GIVEAWAY!!

As I mentioned last week, I have teamed up with my friend Robin of Ellie Boo Designs to giveaway a beautiful, handmade, white feather wreath similar to the ones shown below.  I purchased one a couple of weeks ago and now Robin is graciously offering the one to a lucky TSF reader!  This wreath will add a little bit of whimsy to your Christmas decor.  It looks fabulous over a mantle, in a window, in front of bookcases, as a part of a holiday party, and would be a darling touch to a children's room.  Really, it will look fantastic just about anywhere!  Did I mention this is my first giveaway?!  I am so excited!

image: BHG
Robin opened her Etsy shop a few months ago and offers custom letters perfect for a little one's nursery as well as exceptionally made faux wreaths for any season.  I particularly like the purple hydrangea topiary and will probably be adding it to my fall decor next football season.

I know you are dying to enter :)  Here's what you need to do.  Good luck!

To Enter:

1.  Become a follower of The Simply Fabulous and leave a comment.
2.  Visit Ellie Boo Designs and come back and comment on which item in your shop is your favorite.
3.  Follow me on Twitter {HERE} and don't forget to leave a comment telling me you are.
4.  Tweet about this giveaway and make sure to include @thesimplyfab and this URL {http://thesimplyfabulous.blogspot.com/2011/12/ellie-boo-designs-giveaway.html} in your tweet.

Make sure you leave a comment for EACH ENTRY!

1.  Make sure you are a follower of The Simply Fabulous.  If you are not, become one (it is an entry too)!
2.  You must live in the US to win.

I will randomly select a winner using the Random Number Generator at NOON on Friday, December 9, 2011. UPDATE: winner will be announced Wednesday, December 14 at 3 pm!

images:  Home Made Simple via North On HarperWest Elm , Garnet Hill


2011 Christmas Gift Guide: The Little Princess & ANNOUNCEMENT!!!

1. KinderBike Balance Bike  2. Bitty Baby Travel Seat  3. Nutcase Little Nutty Love Helmet  4. LeapFrog LeapPad in Pink  5. Splendid Fair Isle Thermal Dress  6. Nordstrom 'Micino' Mary Jane  7. Crewcuts Girls' Hearts Aflutter Tee  8.  Pottery Barn Kids Stackable Tea Set  9. Olive, The Other Reindeer  10. Bla Bla Kids Suzette the Fox  11. Pier One Turtle Ornament

Next week I will be hosting MY FIRST GIVEAWAY!!!  The talented Robin from Ellie Boo Designs makes the most precious personalized letters for children's rooms as well as beautiful (and real looking) faux wreaths.  Check out her designs at her Etsy shop Ellie Boo Designs.  And come back next week for all the giveaway details!  Happy Weekend!

background image: Mr. Boddington
label: Paper & Pigtails
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