Our Simple Christmas

Our simple Christmas looks a lot like our simple summer staycation. And our simple family vacation to Northwest Arkansas. And, our simple regular schedule.

Early bedtimes. (6:15… when we say early, we mean E-A-R-L-Y) 

Evenings at home.

Low budget.

Quiet, yet magical.

Fewer decorations than last year. Just the giant tree (a hand-me-down from my parents, which has so many precious memories) with tons of lights and ornaments. I left most of the knick-knacks in the attic. I did try to add some “natural elements” to this year’s decor, which I quickly killed. Now I know why folks use faux greenery… I’m a crazy plant lady, but I killed my indoor potted rosemary miniature Christmas trees and the fresh garland we hung over our bookcase almost immediately.

It looked good for a few days, at least.

At the beginning of the season, I made a Christmas bucket list. In past years my list has been long. Very long. This year I only wanted to do two things as a family: go look at Christmas lights while sipping on hot chocolate, and decorate Christmas cookies.

We’ve already done both. And, I’ve done all my shopping (online of course, because I refuse to step foot in a store after November 1… including a grocery store). There’s still plenty of wrapping to do, and maybe a Christmas movie or two to watch. But if I don’t get to it, that’s fine.

We don’t have an Elf on the Shelf. Wrenn asked me why we’re the only family on the street without our own elf, and I flatly told her, “because they’re not real.” Our very mature 5-year-old was totally fine with that explanation. Let’s be honest… I don’t have the energy to do the Elf. I hope to make it take the girls to get pics with Santa. But if that doesn’t happen, they’ll live. They’ve seen him from afar several times. Wrenn wrote him a letter (and he wrote back!), so her belief is intact for another year.

And that’s it for Christmas. No expectations. No pressure. We’re keeping it simple.

On purpose.

Each day ends with our advent reading. We turn out all the lights in the house, except for the white twinkle lights on the Christmas tree. We light the candles and read the daily Bible passage. It’s not a legalistic, have-to tradition. It’s a moment of peace in the midst of a swirl of celebrations, each night, where we think about what it must have been like to anxiously wait for a Savior to come. A King to arrive. All the waiting. All the hoping. All the wondering.

And then He came.

Our advent is restful. Magical. Unifying and clarifying and refocuses us on why we’re doing all this in the first place.

We’ll wrap up the season with some simple celebrations with both sides of our family (one we’ve already done), and then ring in the actual Christmas day in our pjs, inviting neighbors to stop in for food and drinks and an escape from the chaos and expectations of Christmas.

I like simple.

Our Plan B Christmas

Croup* stinks. For toddlers, and also for adults. I know this because I’ve had it for 10 days and STILL have a fever, a horrible cough that keeps me up all night, no voice, and a runny nose that not all the Kleenex boxes in all the world could handle.

Merry Christmas to me.

PlanBXmas1Gosh, I sound like such a Scrooge, don’t I? It really wasn’t THAT bad. I managed to take Wrenn on a few outings during my week off, but as the week went on, I felt worse. And worse. And worse. And then on Christmas Eve, I felt like death, and between my germs, Wrenn’s germs (she’s on the tail end of croup – she got a 4-day head start), and a tummy bug that attacked one of my relatives, Christmas Eve with Mr. Right’s family got cancelled.

And then I had to cancel Christmas Day plans with my family, since I didn’t want to expose my two baby nephews to my germs. I’m not sure what made me more sad – missing Christmas with my family, or missing a chance to cuddle my 3-week-old and 6-month-old nephews for a whole day.

It was a total bummer, y’all.


Since we hadn’t planned to spend Christmas at home, just the three of us, it wasn’t like we had planned something awesome to do. We had no fun food to cook, so we grabbed take-out fried chicken for our Christmas Eve dinner. Thankfully, Christmas night, both of our moms dropped off Christmas leftovers so we were able to eat a proper Christmas dinner, albeit it from the microwave on a plastic plate. It was yummy nonetheless.

I was super bummed at first about all our cancelled fun may or may not have thrown myself a pity party on Christmas Eve, but then we wrote a letter to Santa, set out cookies, and the magic seemed to come back a little. Wrenn was REALLY into Santa this year, and also totally confused about why he came when she was SLEEPING. So silly, if you think about it. Girlfriend wanted to HANG OUT WITH SANTA.


Christmas Day ended up being pretty wonderful. Wrenn loved opening presents, and we all played with her new toys, took long naps, and got to briefly see family that night as they dropped off food. Mr. Right was able to sneak in two bike rides in that beautiful 75-degree Christmas weather, and I got to spend the day relaxing – something I, well, rarely do.

PlanBXmas3 Now Christmas has been put away, the pine needles have been vacuumed up (mostly), half of my decorations have been donated to Goodwill (yay for simplifying), and I’m in full-on New Year’s organizing mode. And I’m heading to the doctor tomorrow to beg him for SOMETHING to make me no longer contagious. I’m starting to get a bit lonely over here.

*I was convinced I had croup, but when I called my doctor today, he said croup only lasts about 5 days. He doesn’t think it’s croup – so it must be the plague. It’s the only other possibility.

Christmas Bunting – In the shop!


I’ve got brand-new Christmas bunting in the shop, and I’m offering free shipping for the next few days. It features some of my favorite Christmas fabrics without being TOO Christmas-y. I mean, nothing says Merry Christmas like a little gray zebra print, right?


This makes me so excited to decorate for Christmas. When do you start your decorating? I like to have mine up by the weekend before Thanksgiving, because that way I can enjoy Thanksgiving and my time off work and not run around working on things. I realize there’s those “nothing ’til after Thanksgiving” purists, but I’m not one of them. My biggest goal is to be able to relax and enjoy being at home with my family.


I keep thinking back to last year’s Thanksgiving. I found out I was pregnant the Tuesday before Thanksgiving – Nov. 20 – which was also just two days before my birthday. That week was so special (and stressful – I was high risk and in the ER the day we found out I was pregnant), and I keep reliving those moments over and over while staring at my beautiful baby girl. I knew all along she would be amazing, but really, I had no idea.

So this year as I decorate for Christmas, I’m going to be extra thankful, and joyful. My little family has been so blessed.

Is it Christmas yet?

Christmas is just around the corner, and it’s taking every ounce of my being not to turn on the Christmas music, get down the decorations and just START my Christmas. I’ve already finished about 80% of my Christmas shopping, thanks to many middle-of-the-night feedings where I perused blogs and did online shopping on my iPhone right after Baby Girl was born. I had a lot of extra time on my hands back during those first few weeks when I was up 21 hours a day.

Man, I don’t miss those days.

My goal for this year is to check all of my to-do items  off the list early so I can just sit back and ENJOY Christmas. I tend to get so busy that I sprint through Christmas, doing and going but not always stopping to breathe and be thankful. Or, there was last year, when I was newly pregnant and so sick I could barely eat crackers, so I sort of missed the entire holiday season (along with New Year’s, Valentine’s, Saint Patrick’s Day, Easter…). This year, I kind of want to stroll through the month and relish those “firsts” with my growing family.


One of the things I am most excited about is taking Baby Wrenn to see Santa for the first time. A few years back we found this AWESOME picture of my dad’s first visit to see Santa. As you can see… it was a classic.


I experimented with Christmas bunting last night, and I’m so pleased with the result! I’m thinking about adding it to the shop. This one is already spoken for, but I plan to whip up some more soon – if you’re interested in some, let me know – I’m just going to make a limited quantity. I plan to use some for my mantle and bring a strand to decorate my new office.


I’ve also got a few quilted Christmas pillows available. I love this star pattern (I recently finished a star quilt top that I can’t decide if I want to list in the store, or get greedy and keep for myself).


And the back of those pillows – which just so happen to match the bunting.


I’ve also got Christmas prints – this one sat proudly on my Christmas mantle last year, and I also used it as a hostess gift.

What about you? Are you ready for Christmas, or are you closing your eyes and pretending like it’s a long, long ways off? What part are you most looking forward to?

A slightly pitiful Christmas wrap-up

Christmas this year was both wonderful and awful. Wonderful because I got to spend quality time with both sides of the family. Awful because I ended up spending Christmas day alone on my couch, sicker than I’ve been at any other point in this pregnancy. It was the pits.

But back to the good parts. It was a huge treat to see all members of both sides of our immediate families (including two new nephews and our adorable niece with her pink cowboy hat and new pony), plus our aunt from England (we sure missed my uncle, who wasn’t able to make the trip). We were blessed with great conversation and gifts more generous than we deserved. Plus it was fun to give some of the presents Mr. Right and I made ourselves, and a relief to not have to keep those as secrets anymore. Neither of us is good at keeping secrets, so it was a small miracle that we didn’t tell each other what our gifts were.

Which for the record: Mr. Right gave me something I had been asking for… a family recipe book. He’s an amazing cook, but never works off of recipes (and I only cook off of recipes) so I had been asking him to write down our favorites so I could make them too. He did, and I love my new book. I, in turn, gave him a custom Texas Lovely print featuring a quote he had asked me to make something with months ago.

The actual Christmas day involved me crying four different times – hello pregnancy hormones. I cried when Mr. Right gave me my Christmas presents, I cried when he said something sentimental. I cried at an episode of How I Met Your Mother (which is how I know it was hormones), and I cried in bed that night in frustration that this nausea thing continues to drag on, and not just serve as an annoyance but hinder me from doing just about anything. Sweet Mr. Right was there to listen and reassure me that this season will pass, even though in the moment it feels like a forever kind of thing.

In God’s infinite grace, the next day I felt significantly better, I got a good night’s sleep (after waking up at 4:00 a.m. on Christmas morning), and my spirits were raised. I continue to look like a total wreck, but I’m thankful for good days sprinkled in the midst of the crummy ones.

If you can, please say a little prayer for our doctor’s appointment today. We have another ultrasound to see our little kumquat, and while I’m confident everything is okay, those words (high risk) still haunt me, and I’ll feel better after I know things are still on track. I’ll be 11 weeks along on Saturday, so I’m very, very close to being out of the woods. I know my God is in complete control and won’t be the least bit surprised by our appointment later today – please pray that my mind will find peace.

Etsy Shop Update – Thanksgiving & Christmas lovelies!

I’m trying hard not to just pimp my shop on my blog. That wasn’t the purpose of this blog and never will be. But it’s also a big part of my life right now (and with launching Mr. Right’s real estate business, a huge help financially), so I want to be sure to remind you that it’s there.

I only have a few Thankful prints left. Once they’re sold out, I probably won’t print any more until next fall. So if you’ve had your eye on this for a little while, be sure to pick it up before it sells out!

I can’t believe it, but we’re going to blink and it will be Christmas. I’ve still got some hand-sewn Christmas cards available in the shop (only available through Nov. 15, then I’m discontinuing them), but I also have these new photo cards if you prefer something a little more economical. Just click on the picture to link to the shop listing.

With these photo cards, you can either purchase the art file, ready to send to your printer, for just $20, or for an additional cost (and if you don’t want to mess with finding a printer and envelopes), I will be happy to print them for you (prices range from $1.20-$1.50 each, including envelopes, depending on quantity ordered). If you have questions, just leave me a message in the comments section of this blog post.

 Also, I am offering a limited number of custom Christmas card designs. Price will be $50 for the design, plus the cost of printing if you want me to print them for you. If you’re interested, just leave me a message in the comments section of this blog post.

And finally, I’m working on a Christmas quilt or two that will end up in the shop. Follow me on Instragram (@texas_lovely) to see sneak preview pictures. The last few quilts I made were “sold” before I ever listed them in the shop because folks saw it on Instagram and staked their claim. I’m perfectly happy to pre-sell again, so let me know if you’re interested in having a warm Texas Lovely Christmas quilt in your home!

Love you all, my friends!

Best Christmas Ever

I figured out why I have so thoroughly enjoyed Christmas this year… it’s because it’s been the first Christmas in ages that hasn’t been overshadowed by life events.
Christmas 2010 – Got married exactly two weeks after Christmas… so I was drowning in wedding to-do lists.
Christmas 2009 – Graduated from Grad School (and threw myself a giant party)
Christmas 2006-2008 – Grad School Finals
Christmas 2003 and 2004 – Moved
So that leaves Christmas 2005 as my only quiet, normal Christmas since college. And that was ages ago! But this year we are making up for lost time…
Mostly by baking and attending parties.
From last Friday to today I will have had gone to six parties. And since Mr. Right and I express love through food (and crafts), here’s what we did:
Chocolate-dipped marshmallows for a dinner we hosted at our house last weekend. They had kids… and kids love marshmallows. And let’s face it, I love marshmallows too… so it worked perfectly. (Mr. Right claims to not like marshmallows, but let the record show that he ate enough to convince me otherwise.)

For a Christmas dinner Friday night I made chocolate-dipped strawberries and pretzel sticks. Chocolate + sweet + salty = love.

For a surprise birthday party Sunday night we made SIX DOZEN cupcakes – half iced in vanilla cream cheese icing, and the other half with Mr. Right’s super secret banana chocolate frosting recipe. It’s so good it’ll change your life.

We were smart and only left ourselves a few at the house, and left the rest of the leftovers at the party, except for a handful which we dropped off at Andrea’s house because (a) she has become like an extended member of our family and (b) she loves Mr. Right’s cooking as much as I do, so we always try to swing her some goodies whenever possible.
Now that we’re just a few days away from the big day, I’m trying hard to stay laid-back and stress-free about my long to-do list, which includes wrapping presents (we haven’t wrapped a single one yet) and finishing a quilt (I see some hand-binding while watching Christmas movies in my plans for this week). The unimportant things, like vacuuming, will just have to wait until next week when I’m off of work for one whole glorious week.
Or maybe I’ll save it for my New Year’s resolutions… I’ve got to leave something for 2012.

A White Christmas… and years past

Today was Dallas’ first white Christmas in 87 years. I could have sworn it happened one time back in high school, but my memory must be failing me. I hear that happens with old age.

We had an amazingly lazy Christmas Eve. I learned how to play Rummy Cube (and won two of three games), watched a couple of Christmas movies, knitted on my latest blanket, and ate a humongous dinner. Oh, and we played in the snow. My how beautiful it is.
But Christmas always makes me wax sentimental, so here are some memories from past Christmas blog posts:
Who could forget last Christmas, when I set my hair on fire at the candlelight service at church? (a personal favorite)
Also, a little Christmas video I threw together from last year.
There was Christmas of 2007, the year that I decorated cookies again. and again. and again. It turned out to be one of my all-time favorite Christmas memories, and yet… I also realized that I do not have a future as a professional cookie decorator. Man, it’s hard.
There was the Tacky Sweater Christmas of 2005. The one where we didn’t tell our extended family our plan, just showed up in tacky sweaters and never said anything about them. It was wonderfully awkward, the elephant in the room where nobody wanted to ask us about our tacky sweaters, for fear they were legit. I think this is one of the greatest things about my family–they’re not afraid to look stupid.
As I lie here in my old bedroom at my parents’ house, I’m recounting the many ways God has blessed me in 2009. I hope you and your family also experience, recognize, and give thanks to God for his blessings this Christmas season. He really is good, isn’t he?

Almost Christmas and other stream-of-consciousness

It’s almost Christmas and there’s so much I still haven’t done. I haven’t wrapped ANY presents yet. That’s right, not a one. I haven’t driven around to look at Christmas lights. I haven’t decorated Christmas cookies. I haven’t watched very many Christmas movies. I haven’t worn all my red sweaters. I haven’t even eaten a single candy cane! (although I’ve got one swimming around the bottom of my purse, waiting for a weak moment when I will cave and devour it, most likely right before supper, thus ruining my appetite and yet making me quite content).

But I’m not that worried about it. The gifts will be wrapped… soon. The cookies will be made… although it might be January. The lights may not get seen. But I decided that this year, I’m not going to stress out about what needs to be done for Christmas. I’m just going to enjoy spending time with my family, continue to catch up on sleep, and relish the fact that life will go on if I don’t check every item off my to-do list.
As my family likes to say… “good enough.”
I am quite excited about my other Christmas tradition though–using my time off from work to lie around my house and breeze through novel after novel, catching up on the wonderful stack of books that have been calling my name for months. I’m a good ways into Wuthering Heights, and I love it, but I’ve got a Pat Conroy novel waiting in the wings, and a Barnes & Noble gift card burning a hole in my pocket.
I should save that candy cane for one of my leisurely reading afternoons.
In other news…
The number one question I get, now that I’m finished with grad school, is “Now what?” Apparently the proper thing to do after one finishes a masters degree is to change jobs. Nobody wants to hear my answer: “I don’t know. I sure do love my job. I love my boss. I find my work to be incredibly interesting. I love the enormous amount of vacation time I get. I love that I get to help people. And I love that my commute is super easy. So yes, someday I may change, but I’m quite content where I am today.” I’ve decided that I’m extremely A.D.D. when it comes to hobbies/projects/after-school activities, and yet when it comes to my job and my church, I am loyal and enjoy the stability that comes with staying in the same place for several years (6 years at one, 5.5 at the other). I’m not sure what that means… the psychoanalzation will have to continue for a bit longer. But I do wish folks would stop asking me the “now what.” That, and the “What do you want to be when you grow up” question. Because I honestly don’t know. I have some inklings, but telling someone you want to stay home and write novels while sitting on your back porch in your pajamas, drinking coffee out of a giant thermos, sort of sounds frivolous.
I had a blind date tonight. I really shouldn’t go on these, as they never turn out, but blind dates are a gold mine for funny stories that I can tell for years to come. Tonight’s was disappointingly uneventful–other than a giant pimple that popped up on my forehead about three fateful hours before the date, there was no drama, no tragedy, no humiliation. It was simply a nice dinner, some pleasant conversation, and the quick realization that there would be no need for a second date. But I did have the most AMAZING flour-less chocolate cake for dessert. So totally worth it.
I am officially in half marathon training mode. I squeezed in a run tonight between work and the date. I should know by now that even after I finish running, my face will continue to look like a red, sweaty tomato for several more hours. Yet I so easily forget this minor detail, so I was still a tad red/sweaty for the date. I’m clinging to the hope that my redness was mistaken for a tan… and not some horrible disease. I guess in either case, it really doesn’t matter. Oh… but did I mention that chocolate cake? (sigh)
I’ve got a month off from teaching Sunday School, so I have time to study something that’s just for me. I’ve decided to hang out in Hosea for awhile, and let me tell you, my Bible Commentary is definitely my friend. This book’s a challenge, but challenges are good.
Off to bed… Christmas Eve launches in just a few hours, and I have some wrapping to do! Merry Christmas, and God bless.