12.16.2014

Link Up Your Christmas Home!


Well here we are - the twelfth day!  

Today is your day to link up your Christmas home tour!


In case you missed any of the tours so far, here they are:
Amanda // Dixie Delights
Jennifer // Dimples & Tangles
Elizabeth // The Little Black Door

I had such a great time with these wonderful bloggers - 
this community of idea and style sharing never ceases to amaze me
and I LOVE getting to know everyone better by visiting each other's homes.

And now it's your turn!
We decided to make this party a blog hop so your link will appear on a bunch of blogs today, 
and will be open until the end of December so you have plenty of time to add your tour.

Spread some cheer along with your Christmas style and traditions!
I can't wait to see what Christmas looks like to you!

Thank you for taking the tours this year  
and from my home to yours,


I wish you the merriest of Christmases with those you love!
XO Lisa



12.14.2014

A Walk Through The Tour Of Homes


Well my friends have you enjoyed the 12 Days Of Christmas Tour of Homes as much as I have?
It's been so fun to see everyone's different styles and traditions, and share some Christmas cheer.

In the midst of the tours, the mom of Andrea of Oak Ridge Revival had a very serious accident.
She has been recovering day by day and was moved into a rehab facility while she continues to improve.  Andrea, your mom and whole family are in my thoughts and prayers!!

It seems kind of trivial and silly to talk about Christmas decor when Andrea's mom is going through such a trial, but on the other hand I hope looking at Christmas home tours will be just the diversion Andrea and others who are going through a difficult time could use.

{Andrea has an eclectic, collected and beautiful style.
If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to check out her 2013 Christmas Tour.}

Best wishes to Andrea's mom for a full recovery.



Tomorrow is the grand finale of this tour of homes -
the day for you to link up your holiday home at Evolution of Style!!
Please join us for a link party and share your Christmas style, traditions and cheer!

{To visit the following tours just click on the photo collage.}  

Thanks for following along for the
2nd Annual 12 Days Of Christmas Tour Of Homes!!







 






See you tomorrow (12/16) for the link party!!


12.12.2014

Soup's On!


This time of year I find myself throwing together a batch of soup at least once a week.  Is there anything as comforting on a cold winter's day?  Making soup is SO easy, and homemade is just SO much better than any kind of canned version you could buy.  I almost always use the shortcut of a store bought chicken stock or broth, and a hot bowl of hearty soup is ready in no time.

Here are a few of my favorites that I make all the time.

Minestrone Soup courtesy of yours truly

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup courtesy of yours truly

Hearty Tomato-Vegetable Soup courtesy of yours truly

Spicy Tomato Soup With Blue Cheese from Life In Grace

Loaded Lite Potato Soup from Handle The Heat (I make my own version but this is similar)

Chicken Soup With Meatballs from Great Chicago Italian Recipes (this is similar to our family recipe)


I FINALLY bought myself one of these hand held blenders that goes right into the pot - I have always wanted one but it felt like an "unnecessary purchase".  Well let me tell you - if you make red sauce or soups that you want to have a smooth consistency, you NEED one of these babies!!  Now that I have one I could never go back to the way life was before it :) :) :).  Highly recommend for all soup makers out there.

This week was a big birthday week for dear friends (including Pam at Simple Details and Kris at Driven By Decor!! Did you enter their sweet giveaways??) and I made a cup of soup for one of my local besties to take to work on her special day.

Yesterday on my Random Acts Of Kindness list I mentioned that I save glass jars from the recycle bin and use them to gift soup (or red sauce, or my homemade sugar scrubs!) to friends and family on occasion.  Jam or salad dressing jars are the perfect lunch portion size.


 And you have to pack a little sweet...
(I'm completely obsessed with the Trader Joe's frosted gingerbread cookies 
that I mentioned last week - it's a problem.)  

Easy peasy right?


Today on the 12 Days of Christmas Tour of Homes, Stacey from Steward of Design shares her beautiful holiday home, I can't wait for you to see it!


Thanks for stopping by and I wish you a cozy, relaxing, and fun weekend my lovelies!
xoLisa

12.11.2014

2014 Random Acts Of Kindness List

Hi friends.  Are you enjoying the 12 Days of Christmas Tour of Homes as much as I am?

Today Elizabeth is up and I seriously couldn't wait for this one - I knew it would be colorful and gorgeous, and it sure is!!

Next Tuesday, December 16 is reserved for you to share your holiday home, I can't wait to see how you celebrate this special time of year! Come on by and link up!

*******

Over the last couple of years I have shared some random acts of kindness ideas around Christmastime and for some reason those posts have been hugely popular in my blog stats.  It's heartening to know that there are people, many people, who want to spread love and light around this great big world of ours and make it a better place!!!

This morning I read a story about how an anonymous person walked into my local Toys R Us and asked to pay for some items on layaway.  
When the customer service person asked which layaway account, the anonymous person, now known as the Layaway Angel, said ALL OF THEM.....to the tune of $20,000 and 157 accounts being paid off in full!!!  Imagine the joy for the parents who have items on layaway, working hard to get the money to pay of the debt so they can have some presents under the tree for their kiddos?!

That is so amazing and I am adding that to my life bucket list, but you don't have spend $20,000 to be extra kind.  You don't even have to spend a nickel, if you don't have it to give.  I encourage the kids to commit even the smallest of acts when they are out and about, like offering to take someone's grocery store cart back inside from the parking lot or what have you.  Those little things make a difference in the world.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE how my kids get into RAKs.  They especially enjoy the ones that involve some conspiracy, and they think it's so funny to see people's reactions when a stranger does something kind for them.  We aren't doing the Random Acts of Kindness Advent Calendar this year (you can read about that here) but we are going to commit some RAKs together this Christmas season, it's my favorite tradition!


In case you're looking to commit some too, here is our list from years past with a few new ideas thrown in.  Some are silly, some cost money, many are free, and all are intended to bring some cheer to someone else.  Merry Merry!!
Dedicated to my brother Jim, who received many acts of kindness in his life, 
and who also had a soft spot for the poor, the lonely and the sad.    

At the end of our lives we will not be judged by how many diplomas we received, how much money we made or how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was homeless and you took me in.”- Mother Teresa


1.  Give blood (find a Red Cross location near you here).

2.  Buy (RED) items (but first watch the cutest video of all time!), of which up to 50% of the sale directly to the fight against AIDS.  {Read more about how (RED) is working towards an AIDS-free generation.}  

3. Make a donation at the local food pantry, and mark the calendar to make donate in the summer, when their donations run low.

4.  Leave baggies of quarters taped to machines at the laundromat.

5.  Make a batch of soup for someone.  I recycle glass jars for this purpose, they are great for gifting soup!  My Minestrone Soup is quick, easy and a crowd pleaser, I double the batch when I make it and give half of it to friends and family.

6. Bring a stranger a Christmas wreath.

7.  Donate to Toys For Tots (find a location near you here.)

8.  Help someone in a grocery store parking lot load bags into their car.

9. Buy a lottery ticket for a stranger.

10.  Send an anonymous present.

11.  Let someone go ahead in the checkout line.

12.  Take 5 minutes to pick up litter in town.

13.  Ask an elderly neighbor if you can help them with something.

14.  Donate books to your local library or school.

15. Return a shopping cart for someone.

16.  Buy a gift certificate at a restaurant or the mall food court and then give to person behind you in line.

17.  Tape a gift certificate for a free car wash to a stranger’s car.

18.  Send a care package to a soldier via Operation Care Package.

19.  Bring a sandwich to a homeless person.

20.  Send a funny old photo to a friend just to make them laugh.

21.  Send diapers to low-income families (http://www.diaperbanknetwork.org/)

22.  Send an email or a note to a manager about an employee that does a great job.

23.  Leave a good book in a hospital waiting room (with a note that it’s free for the taking).

24.  Tape change in a baggy to a vending machine.

25.  While Christmas shopping, share a coupon with another shopper.

26.  Bring flowers to the secretaries at our schools.

27.  Donate your old cell phones to Cell Phones For Soldiers, who are committed to providing cost-free communication services to active-duty military members and veterans.

28.  Hold the door for everyone going in and out of a public place for a few minutes, and say Merry Christmas to them.

29.  Compliment a mother of young children in a store for doing such a great job with her kiddos. 

30.  Drop of a few pair of warm socks to your town's senior center.

31.  Leave a big tip for a restaurant server.

32.  Hide a few dollar bills around the Dollar Store.

33.  Forgive someone who is in a bad mood and be extra kind to them.  

34.  Help a neighbor who is shoveling snow.

35.  Leave a small surprise for your family members.

36.  Bring a small treat to your neighbors (see Pam's adorable ideas here!)

37.  Pay everyone you talk to a compliment in the course of one day.

38.  Sponsor a child through Compassion.

39.  Pay the tab for the person behind you in a coffee drive through.

40.  Ask someone if they need help wrapping Christmas gifts.

41.  Bring coffee to a construction worker, police on detail, or anyone working outside.

42. Sort clothes and donations at organization that supports the impoverished in your city (Massachusetts readers: Cradles To Crayons is a wonderful organization.)

43.  Visit an elderly person and spend some time chatting with them.  

44.  Hand out gloves and mittens to the homeless, or leave them on park benches (check the dollar store!)

45.  Send a letter to a teacher or mentor from your life's journey to say thank you.

46.  If you are shopping on Amazon for the holidays, check out Amazon Smile.  You can select a charitable organization and, at NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU, a portion of the sale will go to that charity.  (I chose the Joe Andruzzi Financial Assistance Program, which directly supports families who have a member battling cancer.)

47.  If you know someone who has just lost a family member, CALL THEM to check in on them. Listen to them.  And then make them laugh!

48.  Make holiday gift baskets for impoverished mothers who are struggling to get through the holidays (My Brother's Keeper is a MA based organization.)

49.  Get a group together and spend a whole day making meals and handing them out to the homeless.  You'll have fun and do something wonderful at the same time. (The Elisha Project is a Providence, RI based organization.)

50. Invite someone you suspect will be alone to spend your holiday celebrations with you.


Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and read this list!

I wish you the merriest and brightest Christmas season
and 
may your heart be full of love.

XOLisa

{via}



12.05.2014

Our Christmas Home Tour



Hello friends!!
I'm posting twice in one day today because I wanted you to have a chance to check out the fabulous Best of the Nest features before making our way to the 12 Days of Christmas Tour of Homes.

Have you seen the beautifully decorated homes on the tour this week?
If not be sure to get caught up this weekend!
and 

Today is my day to share some Christmas spirit from our home to yours!

Most of our home is really neutral and I decorate with simple touches here and there for the Christmas season.  

This year has been a tough one for my family and so I'm intentionally seeking to make the holidays BRIGHT and JOYFUL.  Sometimes you've got to fake it til you feel it.  With that in mind I picked up some boxes of tiny colorful balls at Target, and they made our tree an explosion of color!

Yes - these crazy colors DO make our spirits brighter!

This tree is such a fun departure from last year's color palette of white, silver, and natural elements like pinecones.  (You can see our 2013 Christmas Tour here.)


So pretty by daylight, 

but truly magical at night.

This is what's under our tree - the only gift purchased thus far, for myself, but I'm giving my husband the easy way out of gift giving.  
It's this spectacular book by none other than Cyndy from The Creativity Exchange
and I can't wait to dive into it after Christmas!  Isn't Mark so good to me? :)
(Free printable gift tags from Shanty 2 Chic)

Our living room is in the midst of some long overdue decorating, so instead of stockings, it was the curtains that were being hung by the tree with care, in hopes that the rug soon would be there!
(And it was!  At 4pm yesterday.  
Nothing like cutting it close for a blog Christmas home tour or anything.)

My pretty new pillows haven't arrived yet, so I "made" a Christmas pillow by turning over this watercolor fabric pillow from Homegoods and using the white fabric on the back to freehand, first with chalk, then with a Sharpie.  Easy peasy and two looks for the price of one!

Our living room opens up to the dining room and between these rooms there are three bay windows that flood our house with natural light.  

I hung itty bitty wreaths from Trader Joe's from suction cups on each bay window.  They are festive but don't block the light or the view into the yard, which will soon be blanketed in white.

I carried the bright tree colors in here and it feels so happy and cheerful.

This is my Thankgiving tablecloth, folded as a runner.  I'm currently crushing on blue in a big way, I love how it works with so many different colors!

Besides the tree, I don't go too crazy decorating for Christmas, but I think little details make this time of year feel special.

Last year I made a cocoa station on our changing table-turned beverage cart, and the kids looooooved it.  I sold the cart this summer, and the kids were devastated because in their minds the sole purpose of that cart was for cocoa at Christmastime - so clearly we needed another spot for the cocoa station!


I'll just have one.  Or two.  Or seventeen. 
(Yummy frosted gingerbread cookies from TJs.  Black & white tray from Ikea.)

In the kitchen I hung another itty bitty TJs wreath above the window and cut some evergreens from our yard for next to the sink.

The graphic is a free Christmas gift tag from LindseyBee that I enlarged and transferred to the cutting board using this method
(So easy! I promise you can do it too!)
Isn't Lindsey's lettering so lovely?
I love functional art, and this cutting board can be turned around to it's blank side when it's not the Christmas season.  

We're hoping to finally get our tv mounted over the mantle and spruce up the surround a bit before Christmas, so I went really low key with the decor this year (as in, it's practically naked).....
and the funny thing is I really love it with just a few simple greens and touch of red.  

My kiddos' gingerbread houses will adorn the shelves after we have our annual house making party with friends. 
This is where we can be found, every night of the winter, feet up on the ottoman, burrowed under a blanket, watching TV and enjoying the fire.  It's really cozy and we love this room.

Lighted spikes that we used in our outside planters last year are perfect on the mantle (we have an outlet up there) and add so much Christmas cheer. Seriously, what is better than twinkly Christmas lights at night??  Not even frosted gingerbread cookies.  I'm tempted to leave them up all year long.

That's a peek of Christmastime at our home, now come sit down - let's relax, pretend we have all our shopping done and have a toast to friends!

Thank you for visiting 
and I wish you a very
Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas Season!


Next up on the 12 Days of Christmas Tour of Homes - 
you won't want to miss this one!!

See you Monday and have a wonderful weekend friends!

xoLisa


I'm linking up to the Nesting Place, come join me there!